Rabat –#LetTheirVehiclesRust, #Manechriche (I will not buy), #Boycottez: these are some of the hashtags that have been circulating on social media since Algeria’s Ministry of Industry and Mines recently released the factory exit prices of vehicles assembled in Algeria, which have been deemed too expensive compared to imported cars.
To reduce its imports bills, Algeria has set up in-country car assembly plants since 2012, paving the way for foreign investments through automotive giants such as Volkswagen and Renault. And yet, Algeria currently finds itself in a dire financial crisis caused by the state collapse in oil prices and the emptying of its foreign exchange reserves.
Three years after the opening of car assembly plants, vehicle prices skyrocketed in the North African state, as imports of auto parts continued to rise. In some cases, locally produced vehicles have increased in price from 50-90 percent higher than those of imported cars.
According to ministry data, the factory exit price of Dacia Logan (Renault) in Russia was valued at 610,000 dinars, with an estimated selling price of 710,000 dinars. Meanwhile, its imported counterpart in Algeria, is estimated at DZD 1.14 million. The price of Hyundai i10 made in Algeria is roughly EUR 2,000 more expensive than the price of the same small car in France.
The publication stirred a general uproar among Algerians, who quickly took to their accounts on social media, calling for a boycott of vehicles “made in Algeria.” They denounced a “disguised import,” and lambasted car dealers over their high-profit margin.
Algeria’s Minister of Industry and Mines Youcef Yousfi said during a press conference held on March 17, that “car dealers now know they can no longer set prices as they see fit,” adding that the Algerian state “will keep an eye on the prices of vehicles mounted locally.”
“We have asked all the local manufacturers to give us the prices–these prices will be displayed, and the State will ensure that the prices of locally produced vehicles are not higher than those imported,” the minister said.
He added that at the same time, it is not the government’s responsibility to set prices for locally manufactured vehicles. However, they must not exceed the applied tariffs to imported vehicles.
In response to the Algerian car industry’s proven inefficiency, several Algerian officials, such as the former Minister of Industry Mahdjoub Bedda, previously promised to “put an end to the current [assembly-based] production model.”