RUF-Automobile GmbH, the German sports car maker, plans to create a service, production and marketing base in Bahrain, company representatives said yesterday.

"RUF has had a strong relationship with this region for over 20 years, which is reflected in its increasing customer base among high networth individuals and sports car aficionados," said Alois Ruf, managing director of RUF-Automobile GmbH.

The new company, RUF-Middle East (RUF-ME), is being set up as a joint venture with Rashad Janahi, a Bahrain businessman, with an initial investment of $50 million (Dh183.5 million). The project will be the company's first such facility outside its headquarters in Pfaffenhausen, Germany.

The planned automobile production, servicing and marketing facility represents a one-of-a-kind development in the region, and is an indication of the growing maturity of its motoring market, senior representatives of RUF and RUF-ME said.

They spoke during a media briefing held on the sidelines of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix.

"Our new facility will place us in closer proximity to our customers in the region, while also affording us access to Asian markets.

"It will allow us to service RUF models that are already present here, while also developing the high-end automobile market for RUF in the region," RUF said.

"We are also in the advanced stages of the development of our new indigenous super car, which is slated to be launched next year.

"Our joint venture in Bahrain will supplement the production facility in Germany for the production of this car, which will be totally hand-tailored as is the case with all RUF cars.

"While starting off with limited production volumes, we aim to gradually upgrade our facilities in Bahrain to increase this number to more than 20 units in the near future," he said.

Bahrain was "the ideal" choice for a production facility for a car manufacturer such as RUF, because the country is the first in the Middle East to have a Formula One circuit.

A state-of-the-art production facility will be built adjacent to the Formula One circuit, taking up about 20,000 square metres, said Rashad Janahi, vice-chairman of RUF-ME.