Morocco’s carmaking sector revs up for EV era


If Faouzi Annajah has his means, the primary hydrogen-powered SUV will roll off a Moroccan manufacturing line someday in 2027. And the truth that a French-Moroccan entrepreneur, nonetheless simply 30, may even ponder such a feat exhibits how far the Moroccan automotive trade has are available a short while.

In 2010, when Annajah, co-founder of carmaker NamX, was nonetheless in school, Morocco produced fewer than 60,000 vehicles. Final 12 months, regardless of interruptions to the provision chain throughout the Covid pandemic, manufacturing reached a file 465,000 — neck and neck with Poland, based on CEIC, an information firm. Ultimately, The federal government goals to provide as much as 1mn vehicles a 12 months.

However extra necessary than the headline variety of automobiles made in Morocco, most of that are offered in Europe, is the dominion’s success — via a mixture of stick and carrot — in forcing the backward integration of its automotive provide chain. There at the moment are greater than 250 automotive suppliers, lots of them subsidiaries of international corporations, within the nation, using some 220,000 individuals.

Though probably the most subtle components of a automotive — notably the ability practice — nonetheless have to be imported, many different elements, together with electronics, seats, axles, windscreens and interiors, might be made in Morocco. NamX goals to supply 50-60 per cent of its HUV (“hydrogen utility car”) in Morocco, although the hydrogen canisters it’s going to use will have to be imported, as will the engine — not less than at first.

A gleaming back end of a car, with removable hydrogen canisters
NamX’s HUV hydrogen gas cell automotive with detachable tank system showcased on the Paris Motor Present in October 2022 © Alamy

Final 12 months, Renault mentioned it was sourcing greater than 60 per cent of components for its automobiles, the majority of that are exported, in Morocco. It has pledged to lift that ratio to 65 per cent.

“Now, it’s very a lot simpler to provide a automotive in Morocco than it was 10 years in the past,” says Annajah. Not solely does it have a aggressive cluster of auto suppliers and OEMs (authentic gear producers), he notes, however it’s also producing a gentle stream of homegrown engineers, with 3,500 working in Casablanca alone, lots of them girls.

Final 12 months, Moroccans themselves purchased 161,000 new vehicles, with imports coming from Germany, Spain, Czechia and Turkey. The majority of the 465,000 automobiles produced in Morocco had been offered to France, Italy and Spain.

Arguably the largest breakthrough for the trade, nonetheless, got here in 2012. That was when Renault began producing vehicles at a Tangier plant near the Tanger Med industrial complicated and some miles from Spain. Regardless of its proximity to Europe, wages right here stay a few quarter of the western European degree and beneath these in jap Europe. The Tangier plant, which has a capability of 400,000 automobiles, additionally advantages from tax breaks.

4 years in the past, in 2019, Peugeot, now a part of Stellantis, adopted Renault’s lead. It opened a plant at a price of practically $600mn in Kenitra, close to Rabat, with a capability of 200,000 automobiles. Final November, Stellantis, which makes the Peugeot 208 on the plant, mentioned it will make investments an extra €300mn to double manufacturing to 400,000.

“Now we have succeeded in positioning Kenitra as a number one Stellantis industrial website,” mentioned Samir Cherfan, chief working officer of Stellantis Center East and Africa, on the time of the announcement.

Other than reaching additional progress in native provide chains, the following problem for the trade might be adapting rapidly sufficient to altering regulatory circumstances — notably the EU’s ban on the sale of most inner combustion engine automobiles from 2035.

Renault mentioned it will begin to produce two-seater super-mini electrical automobiles in Morocco this 12 months. The Dacia model, acquired by Renault in 1999, will even produce its next-generation Sandero, a 100 per cent battery electrical car, within the nation.

Final 12 months, Renault signed a memorandum of understanding with Morocco’s mining group Managem to produce 5,000 tonnes of cobalt yearly for electrical and reusable batteries.

Stellantis’s new line-up will provide small, low-cost vehicles based mostly on its so-called “Sensible Vehicles” platform aimed principally at rising markets, together with electrical automobiles. It’s going to additionally increase the manufacturing and meeting of electrical quadricycles for the Citroën and Opel manufacturers.

Stellantis’s electric CitroënAmi car
Stellantis’s electrical CitroënAmi automotive — one in all a rising vary of fashions produced and assembled in Morocco © DimaBerlin/Shutterstock

Morocco is now angling for an electrical battery plant. In Could, following greater than a 12 months of negotiations, the federal government signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinese language-German electrical car battery big Gotion Excessive-Tech for the supposed development of Africa’s first gigafactory. Africa Threat Consulting estimated the deal to be price $6.3bn. As but, the plant has no scheduled development date, suggesting the mission has not but been secured.

That signing was adopted final month by an announcement from China’s CNGR Superior Materials a few deliberate $2bn funding to construct a cathode supplies plant in Morocco, supposed to produce the US and European battery markets.

Analysts at advisory group ARC mentioned in a observe that the settlement in precept “means that Morocco is solidifying its place as Africa’s largest auto-manufacturing hub and is transferring assertively to keep up that place for the following technology of EVs (electrical automobiles)”.

NamX’s Annajah needs to go one step additional, although. Regardless of the shortage of hydrogen infrastructure, NamX goes straight to hydrogen energy. The corporate’s HUV design incorporates six interchangeable hydrogen tanks that, the corporate says, give the car a variety of 800km.

A prototype of the car, made by Italian automotive design firm Pininfarina, was introduced finally 12 months’s Paris Motor Present. To this point, NamX has recruited 100 engineers, however Annajah says the corporate will want not less than €1bn to deliver the automotive to manufacturing. He’s presently scouting potential manufacturing websites in Morocco.

A made-in-Morocco hydrogen car within the very early levels of financing could seem far-fetched. However, Annajah can take consolation in a chunk of historical past. One crucial factor of the lithium-ion batteries that underpin the EV revolution is the graphite anode, which supplies the battery’s adverse pole. Its inventor is a scientist referred to as Rachid Yazami. And he’s Moroccan.

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