Car Assembly: Diversifying the Iraqi Economy
Hussein Ammar –Yalla – Al-Iskandariya
Car assembly in Iraq goes back to the establishment of the General Company for Cars in 1976. The company has several factories – the Bus Factory, Saloon Cars Factory, Trucks Factory – and most recently a new production line assembling Volvo trucks.
The Volvo plant consists of two production lines, the first assembling Renault trucks and the other for the assembly of Volvo trucks. The factory floor covers an area of approximately 19,000 square meters.
According to factory manager Nahidh Rasheed al-Salihi, the production capacity for each line is 2,500 trucks a year – approximately 2 to 10 trucks per working day. The factory employs 250 people including management staff, supervisors and assembly line technicians.
The operation consists of one assembly station and nine preparation stations, and a final quality control stage before the trucks roll off the line.
First, the body structure is assembled before the axel is installed. On the third stage electrical parts are wired in, and then the hydraulics. Gearing and the engine are installed, followed by wheels and frame, the body of the truck and finally the air-conditioning system, coolant and oil are added.
Another station is used for testing the truck for faults, and to program its electronic brains. The engine is fired into life and the truck moves to the last station for a final quality inspection before a road test. If all is well, the truck is shipped to market.
Al-Salihi said, “This factory is for the assembly of trucks, but there is another factory called the body factory, where the installation of tippers, truck caps and water pumps is carried out.”
The way the factory is funded is varied. “The contract with the official branch related to Renault is a supply contract, a direct contract with the French company,” the manager revealed. “Volvo was originally funded through Zamzam Company, an intermediary. Now Renault and Volvo have become partners.”
“The design of the vehicles is according to the demand of the company and sometimes changes are made to it suitable to the environment in Iraq, but overall the specifications are similar to global ones.”
Al-Salihi says there are no private sector companies for the assembly of trucks and cars, and this is the only factory in Iraq. The staff at the factory are only Iraqi, and most of them have been trained in France, Sweden or Morocco.
The financial crisis has restricted the expansion of the project. “The factory currently provides production locally and is not planning on exports. The factory had big contracts to supply trucks to most of the Iraqi governorates but this has been suspended due to the financial situation in Iraq which has negatively impacted on sales and production this year.”