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Morocco prepares to capitalize on EV transition race

Morocco prepares to capitalize on EV transition race


A train that travels from rural northern Morocco to a port on the Mediterranean Sea carries no passengers. Three times a day, it brings hundreds of cars stacked bumper to bumper from a Renault factory outside Tangiers to vessels that transport them to European dealerships.

Business incentives and investing in infrastructure like the freight railway line have allowed Morocco to grow its automotive industry from virtually non-existent to Africa’s largest in less than two decades. The North African kingdom supplies more cars to Europe than China, India or Japan, and has the capacity to produce 700,000 vehicles a year.

Moroccan officials are determined to maintain the country’s role as a car-making juggernaut by competing for electric vehicle projects. But whether one of Africa’s few industrialization success stories can stay competitive as worldwide auto production transitions to EVs and increasingly relies on automation remains to be seen.

More than 250 companies that manufacture cars or their components currently operate in Morocco, where the auto industry now accounts for 22% of gross domestic product and $14 billion in exports. French automaker Renault, the country’s largest private employer, calls Morocco “Sandero-land” because it produces nearly all of its subcompact Dacia Sanderos there.

Unencumbered by many of democracy’s checks and balances, the government tells companies looking to outsource production to cheaper locales they can get approval for new factories and complete construction in as little as five months.

“We didn’t export one car 15 years ago. Now it’s the first exporting sector in the country,” Minister of Industry and Trade Ryad Mezzour said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Mezzour said Morocco has distinguished itself from other outsourcing destinations by expanding its ports, free trade zones and highways. The government offered subsidies of up to 35% for manufacturers to put factories in the rural hinterlands outside of Tangiers, where Renault now produces Clios as well as Dacia Sanderos, Europe’s most popular passenger vehicle, and soon plans to start manufacturing hybrid Dacia Joggers.

Chinese, Japanese, American and Korean factories make seats, engines, shock absorbers and wheels at the Tangiers Automotive City, a large campus of car parts manufacturers. Stellantis produces Peugeots, Opels and Fiats at its plant in Kenitra.

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