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Ashok Leyland plans to expand its bus manufacturing plant in Ras Al Khaimah, Middle East in order to double production capacity.

Shaikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, laid the foundation stone for the $10 million expansion project on Thursday. 

The project also includes a Design and Service Training Centre, Khaleej Times reported.

Post the expansion, the capacity of the plant will increase from 12 buses a day to 24 buses daily by end of 2016.

The commercial vehicle major also plans to set up assembling facilities in Kenya and Ivory Coast and also initiated plans to set up an assembly plant in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. 

This comes on the backdrop of company's expansion in the global market.

The RAK stone-laying ceremony was attended by Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, G P Hinduja, Dheeraj G Hinduja and other dignitaries from the Hinduja family along the senior management of Ashok Leyland including Vinod K Dasari, Managing Director.

Dasari was quoted in the report, by Khaleej Times, saying the RAK plant is critical for supplying buses to address the needs of GCC countries. "With our ambitious plans for Africa, we foresee further expansion of the facility."

Ashok Leyland's RAK factory is a joint venture with the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) and is the only certified local bus factory in the UAE and GCC region.

"A pioneering hub for auto manufacturing, our plant has deepened economic and trade links between India and the UAE, and helped Ras Al Khaimah' s continued economic growth. Both direct and indirect employment is set to rise significantly with this increased capacity," Dasari said.

The RAK plant was inaugurated in 2010.

"We are aiming to grow significant localisation levels soon and towards this we are working very closely with RAKIA on creating an automotive cluster in Ras Al Khaimah where our vendors will set up shops," Dasari said.

Dasari was further quoted saying the company would be foraying into the  value-premium segment of the automotive market of UAE and the GCC region this year as part of enhancing product portfolio. "This would be in addition to our predominant presence in the school bus segment of the UAE with a market share of over 70% owing to our robust design and enhanced safety features," Dasari said.

Dasari said the new $10 million investment in the RAK plant is aimed at expanding production of current models and introducing new models into the regional market, which will include mini buses and trucks.