RIYADH – King Saud University (KSU) has begun contacting Saudi businessmen to enter into partnership in the manufacture and production of its Ghazal 1 vehicle, touted as the first ever Saudi-designed car.
Ali Al-Ghamdi, the KSU Undersecretary for Higher Studies and Scientific Research, said the university was being represented in its investment contacts by Riyadh Valley for Technology, and that KSU would maintain ownership of “a percentage of the product”.
“We have obtained the patent for the car, but the university is an educational environment for the transfer knowledge and not a production line,” Al-Ghamdi said. “All we have done at the university is provide 90 percent of the car’s designs.”
Initial studies, he said, suggest that the Ghazal 1 will be 20 percent cheaper than similar models on the market.
According to Al-Ghamdi, car manufacturing in the Kingdom would create considerable job opportunities.
“Every car is made from more than 300 parts and every part requires its own factory,” he said.
Abdul Rahman Al-Ahari of the KSU’s Center for Manufacturing Technology Transfer said that the timing of the vehicle’s appearance on the market would “depend on supply and demand”, but that he expected it to be for sale in the Gulf within three years.
“The Ghazal 1 is designed to cope with the climate in the Gulf and other environments where the car may be marketable,” Al-Ahari said.
King Saud University aims to produce 20,000 units of the Ghazal 1 over the next three years at a cost of SR1.8 billion, following the official launch of its production line by King Abdullah in Jeddah on Monday.
First presented in March at the 80th Geneva International Motor Show in Switzerland, the Ghazal 1 was developed as part of a project by 55 KSU vehicle engineering students with design and manufacturing help from two Italian automotive firms. The car, which takes its name from the Arabian gazelle, is a Mercedes-Benz G class-based SUV, and two Italian automotive firms helped in the design and manufacture of the vehicle.
Minister of Higher Education Khaled Al-Anqari, speaking at Monday’s launch, said that the Ghazal 1 was the result of over two years’ work with the support of King Saud University.
“The Ghazal 1 is proof of the ability, talent and determination of the Kingdom’s youth,” Al-Anqari said. – Okaz/SG