PSA Group plans to open a factory in Tunisia as part of its efforts to boost sales in North Africa. The factory will start building a pickup in mid-2018 to meet demand in the Tunisian market, PSA said in a statement.
Under CEO Carlos Tavares' Push to Pass business plan, PSA aims to sell 700,000 cars in Africa and the Middle East by 2021. The automaker will open a factory in Morocco in 2019 to build Peugeot and Citroen sedans. It is also in discussions with potential local partners to establish production in Algeria and is reestablishing production in Iran after sanctions were lifted.
The Tunisia factory project shows PSA's goal of being a leading player in the growth of the country's automotive industry, Jean-Christophe Quemard, the company's Africa-Middle East chief, said in the statement.
PSA said the factory will build 1,200 units annually of a Peugeot pickup. It did not say which pickup model will be produced in the plant, which is being built with the automaker's long-term local partner Stafim.
Announcing his Push to Pass plan in April, Tavares said the company will introduce a one-tonne pickup but the automaker has disclosed no details since then. Media reports have said the automaker may use the Toyota Hilux pickup for its model. The two companies already cooperate to build commercial vans.
PSA may build a pickup version of the Hilux from completely knocked down kits, said Jean-Michel Prillieux, marketing director for industry analysts Inovev. It forecasts that production will increase to 1,200 units in 2020 from a modest 600 units in 2018.
Automakers are increasing production in North Africa for local customers in the expectation that car sales will grow rapidly as incomes rise. Low costs and the proximity of the EU for potential exports is another attraction.
Renault, which has two factories in Morocco, opened a plant in Algeria in 2014. Volkswagen Group has just formed a joint venture with its local sales partner SOVAC to assemble cars in Algeria.
PSA is seeking to reduce its dependence on European markets and boost sales in growth regions around the world. A spokesman said vehicle sales are forecast to increase to 8 million units in 2025 in Africa and the Middle East from 5.3 million units in 2015.