Automobile distributor Ifad Group was recently allotted 30 acres in a Bangladesh industrial park where it plans to build a manufacturing complex that will include a lubricant blending plant operated by its joint venture, Gulf Oil Bangladesh Ltd.
Ifad, which is based in the capital city of Dhaka, unveiled plans for the project last year but received the allotment from the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority, which is overseeing development of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City.
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Ifad is exclusive distributor in Bangladesh of commercial vehicles such as heavy-duty trucks, buses and dump trucks manufactured by India’s Ashok Leyland, and it also distributes passenger cars and three-wheelers for Atul Autos, also of India. It wants to enter the manufacturing business, though, and plans to build three facilities at the industrial city: an assembly plant for motorcycles; a factory for automotive components; and the lube blending plant.
The company has not specified the capacity of the blending plant but has said it will be operated by Gulf Oil Bangladesh – a subsidiary of Gulf Oil International in which Ifad bought a 49% stake last year. Ifad expects the overall project to cost 130 crore taka (Tk 1.3 billion or U.S. $15.3 million). It plans to begin construction this year and launch some operations in 2022.
Bangladesh has a relatively small automobile manufacturing base, consisting passenger car assembly plants operated by Mitsubishi and Proton, but Ifad said it sees significant opportunity – partly because demand for vehicles is growing and partly because the national government wants to develop the domestic industry.
Government officials have said they want the country to become a regional auto manufacturing hub by 2030, making vehicles for the domestic market as well as export.
Several other foreign automakers are also considering locating in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City, which is being built along the Bay of Bengal, between the city of Chattogram and the mouth of the Feni River.