Ethiopia Builds Its First Car– And It's Chinese

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The whole cheap Chinese cars are coming to America story has died down– at least until Chrysler pops its Chery. (Look for a resumption of hypestilities at this year's Detroit Auto Show.) Meanwhile, Chinese automakers are warming-up for the world's most competitive automotive market by probing the soft underbelly of the third world, where safety concerns count for nought. reports that Holland Car (an Ethiopian – Dutch partnership) has unveiled its first locally assembled car, built from parts imported from China. West Africans can now purchase the "Abay" (Amharic for the Blue Nile) for $16k. The Abay boasts a four-cylinder engine hooked-up to a five-speed manual transmission. The car arrives some two years after the plant was completed in Mojjo, 70-kms south east of Addis Ababa, at the cost of 20 million birr (plus a EU510k grant by the Dutch government). According to company co-founder Tadesse Tessema, "We are bringing new technology to the country, offering customers to buy new cars instead of older and more expensive ones from Europe." So it's a two-prong deal, as company co-owner Ethio-Holland Transport already imports used European cars for [a fraction of] the country's 75m inhabitants.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Helius Helius on Oct 19, 2007

    What? A country that's busy trying to influence others for self-interests? A country that produces and exports un-safe products, with weak governmental oversight? A country that's a little peevish about another country's leader cozying up to someone they disapprove of? Surely we must remember to count our lucky stars that Americans don't live in such a place.

  • TaxedAndConfused TaxedAndConfused on Oct 19, 2007
    ...the Chinese had shut out many US internet search engines in retaliation... The search engines themselves happily agreed to block certain items from Chinese surfers. Including Yahoo!, Google et al, you know - the American ones.
  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Oct 19, 2007

    Hmmmm.... Just pretend that I'm a Nigerian with $16k to spend on a car. I can buy a new Abay, or buy a used BMW 525i imported from Europe (of questionable legal status no doubt). I know which one I would buy. So good luck with that venture. It helps to have an established credit market to allow your customers to actually buy your product. The ones with enough cash have enough to buy something much better. Those without can't even afford to put fuel in it.

  • Goorsha Goorsha on Oct 20, 2007

    Good posting, I saw this same news at the Ethiopian portal site, Includes pictures and video of the car. I am sure that this manufacturer will be making lots of money as there is a huge demand for cars in the country. Cheers,