Johannesburg - Hyundai is now a commercial vehicle manufacturer in South Africa following the official opening of its new assembly plant in Benoni, Gauteng on Thursday.
Initially the plant will build the Hyundai HD65 and HD72 trucks but Hyundai is also intending to start production of the H-100 bakkie from the beginning of next year, if all goes according to plan. This could eventually bolster the plant's annual output to as much as 5000 units per year from the initial estimate of 600 per year building just the larger trucks.
The vehicles will be built from semi-knocked-down (SKD) kits rather than the completely-knocked-down (CKD) kits that are commonplace in local vehicle assembly, however the latter would only be worthwhile to a company that was able to meet South Africa's APDP incentive programme that requires the company to assemble a minimum of 50 000 vehicles annually.
For now Hyundai has no plans to build passenger cars in South Africa as that would require a far bigger factory and investment, but it's also something that Hyundai is not necessary ruling out for the distant future. But that, says Hyundai SA's marketing director Stanley Anderson, would depend on Hyundai needing additional capacity to satisfy international demand because such an operation would only make sense if the local build volume exceeded 50 000 units a year and we'd need to export to make that happen.
Back to the commercial plant on the East Rand, Anderson says that the operation aims to eventually create 60 jobs for South Africans and that HMC has sent engineers from South Korea to train the local staff and monitor quality levels.
The factory will also build tailor made load boxes in order to supply complete truck units off the factory floor, which free the customer from additional eNatis delays.
For now all production will be for South African consumption, but Hyundai is investigating options to export to other markets in sub-Saharan Africa.