PRAGUE, Jan 25 (Reuters) - United Arab Emirates-based military vehicles maker NIMR Automotive is teaming up with Czech state defence equipment company VOP CZ to try to break into European markets in the coming years, the head of NIMR said in an interview.
NIMR, a subsidiary of state-owned Emirates Defence Industries Company (EDIC) and a leading military vehicles manufacturer in the Middle East, is on a push to expand its global reach and boost production of its light- and medium-weight 4x4 and 6x6 vehicles.
It wants to get into European markets as the continent’s NATO military alliance members step up defence spending but will be entering a crowded market and competing with the likes of General Dynamics, France’s Nexter or Patria of Finland.
NIMR expects a final agreement with VOP in the coming months. VOP is an integrator and supplier of defence equipment and services. It also maintains and retrofits military vehicles, and is already a NIMR supplier.
NIMR’s Chief Executive Fahad Harhara said the new partnership with VOP would help it reach European customers and tailor its vehicles, currently best-suited for harsh desert terrain and heat, to the continent’s colder temperatures.
He said the two sides were already working to “winterise” NIMR vehicles.
“Our ambition is to be with European customers within the next two years,” he said in a telephone interview conducted last Thursday.
NIMR launched a new production facility last year. It has delivered almost 2,000 vehicles in the past three years. The UAE’s armed forces are its biggest customer and it has also a joint venture for production with Algeria.
NIMR’s collaboration with VOP could lead to around 1,000 vehicles being produced in the next three to five years, NIMR said.
A VOP spokesman confirmed talks on further cooperation with NIMR but could not respond immediately to further questions.
The Czech defence ministry plans to buy armoured vehicles in 2017, including Pandurs produced by General Dynamics and Titus 6x6 vehicles from Nexter. (Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Mark Potter)