Workers put the finishing touches on a jeep
in a factory in Mandalay. Pic: Phyo Wai Kyaw
JEEPS, mini-trucks and light trucks manufactured in Myanmar using
high-quality imported parts are becoming an increasingly common
sight on the streets of Mandalay due to their low prices.
Domestic vehicle production started in Myanmar in 2000.
“In February 2000, officials from Ministry of Industry
(2) gave permission for local factories to start producing automobiles,”
said U Thein Zaw, a spokesperson for Super Mandalar car factory
in the Mandalay Industrial Zone.
“The Mandalay Industrial Zone got permission to produce
50 jeeps, and industrial zones in Taunggyi, Monywa and Pakokku
also got permission for 50 jeeps each,” he said.
U Thein Zaw said that when production started, the bodies of
the vehicles were made by hand, while parts such as gearboxes,
engines and axles were imported.
In fiscal 2002-2003 the government also sold K160 million in
illegally imported car parts it had confiscated to domestic car
From its humble beginnings with two car factories a few years
ago, the Mandalay Industrial Zone now boasts 30 private auto factories,
which now produce car body parts using moulds rather than by hand.
While early models suffered from steering problems and frame
instability, local engineers were able to study manufacturing
processes in countries like Japan, Thailand, South Korea and China,
and bring their newfound knowledge back to Myanmar.
In 2003 the Mandalay Industrial Zone expanded beyond the production
of jeeps to include light trucks. A total of about 3000 vehicles
are now made at the zone each year.
When manufacturing in 2000, jeeps were sold for about K3.5 million.
Now the price for jeeps ranges from K7.5 million to K16 million,
while light trucks go for K12 to K16 million.