CRUISE CONTROL: More Ja-made cars for Turks and Caicos
Brian Bonitto, Special Assignment Editor
In an economy characterised by sputtering car sales, Patrick Marzouca appears to have done the extraordinary.
After exporting three of his locally made, five-seater Island Cruisers to the Turks and Caicos Islands last December, the Jamaican businessman has secured another deal for more than 10 times that number.
"I have a letter of commitment, dated January 12, 2011, from car-rental company Rent A Buggy Limited, for 32 more cars over a 24-month period," said the elated 60-year-old Westmoreland-based car manufacturer.
Marzouca said as part of the second contract, the Providenciales-based firm - owned by Gilly Williams and his son Nikimo - is requesting 27 of his Island Cruisers creations; three Island Cruiser Coupe (Wasp) and two of the stretched 11-seater version of the Island Cruiser.
"Finally, my vision for the cars has been recognised," said Marzouca, who has been manufacturing vehicles locally since 2000.
With the Island Cruisers priced at US$15,000 each, Marzouca said the brightly coloured, fibreglass-framed vehicles are ideal for tourists, as they need very little maintenance.
"They are a great investment," he said. "Anyone who buys these vehicles will definitely get his or her money's worth. They are low-maintenance and have longevity due to design and construction."
Biggest to date
Marzouca said the latest project would be his biggest to date and he was in the process of securing financing to begin manufacturing the cars.
"I'm currently in talks with Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO). They are helping me with the paperwork in order to secure a loan from EX-IM Bank," he told Automotives.
The businessman said the interest rate offered by that institution on a US-dollar loan was "realistic".
"They are charging 6.75 per cent per annum and that's the best I've seen," the local automaker said.
Dr Karl Reid, consultant at JAMPRO, told Automotives that if all goes well the loan could be processed within six to eight weeks.
"Ten weeks, in a worst-case scenario," Dr Reid added.
Marzouca, who sources fibreglass resin from Colombia, said his current operations would have to be overhauled to meet this big order.
"We have four employees, but we would need another 15 to 20 persons and we would have to train them," he said.
The University of Florida-certified engineer said the vehicles are equipped with a 1500cc, five-speed automatic engine that can reach a speed of up to 170 km per hour.
"They are very fuel-efficient, too. You can get 44 miles to the gallon providing you're driving between 80 and 90 kilometres per hour," he said. "And, that's driving within the speed limit."