Ten months might not seem like enough time to build an automotive assembly plant from scratch. But that's the timeframe PSA Group needed in Morocco, where the group's new factory in Kenitra has just completed its first prototypes ahead of the start of production in 2019.
How did PSA go so quickly from greenfield to a plant factory capable of eventually producing 200,000 cars and 200,000 engines annually? The answer, PSA says, lies in maximizing competitiveness and efficiency, two of CEO Carlos Tavares' favorite buzzwords.
"To be the most competitive is key," said Jean-Christophe Quemard, PSA's executive vice president for Africa and the Middle East, who was involved "from A to Z" in the plant's construction.
He refrains from providing too many details about the new operation: "We don't publicize how nice our equipment is or how many robots we have," says Quemard. "This isn't our way of thinking."
Nor was the plant designed to make an architectural statement, and PSA doesn't expect to win any design awards for it.
But what PSA did achieve, with the help of Morocco's economic development authorities, is the establishment of a low-cost manufacturing base for mass-market models, just off the European mainland, in a region that is one of Tavares' crucial targets for growth and profit.
Most of the cars and engines built in Kenitra, a port city of 430,000 near the capital, Rabat, will be exported to other countries in the region - and potentially to South America and Europe. It's part of PSA's recent push into emerging markets, including India.
Complementing the plant, PSA is opening a technical center that will employ 500 engineers.