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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
Jamaica becomes car exporter
Island Cruiser
The Island Cruiser: Made for the beach
Jamaica, best known for rum and reggae, has joined the ranks of the world's car exporting nations.

Local carmaker Excel Motors on Friday shipped its first model abroad, fulfilling an order placed by a customer in the Bahamas.

Excel Motors, based in west Jamaica, produces just one type of car: The "Island Cruiser," a small two-door vehicle mounted on a fibreglass chassis and equipped with a 1.5 litre Japanese-made engine.

Excel describes the car, designed with the help of a German automotive engineer, as an ideal "beach oriented" vehicle.

Excel, founded in 1996, has produced 22 Island Cruisers so far this year, and says demand from tourist-oriented car rental firms is starting to grow.

Excel director Patrick Marzouca said the company's first export sale marked "a proud milestone in the history of Jamaica."

"Many were of the view that a vehicle could never be manufactured locally, let alone exported," he told the AP news agency.

Car exports mark something of a departure for Jamaica's economy, which is better known for supplying sugar, rum and bauxite to the world.

But Excel Motors, with total export sales of just $12,300 to date, has some way to go before it can challenge the island nation's established export industries.

Country profile: Jamaica
04 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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