Michael Sacke, the chief executive and managing director of Isuzu Motors SA, said it was quite a critical time for the company because these discussions also coincided with the changes and succession plan for the Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP).
“That is all in the mixing pot, and it’s quite important that we have clarity on that pretty soon,” he said.
The APDP expires in 2020 and an announcement about the new policy, which would run until 2035, was expected this year.
Isuzu’s KB bakkie was produced locally by General Motors South Africa (GMSA) until its disinvestment from South Africa last year. This resulted in Isuzu acquiring GMSA’s manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth and establishing a new company in South Africa.
Sacke agreed that it would seem illogical if the replacement Isuzu KB bakkie was not produced in South Africa after Isuzu acquired GMSA’s plant, but stressed producing the new bakkie would have to make business sense and it would also have to be competitive.
The Isuzu KB competes largely with bakkies produced by Toyota, Ford and Nissan.
Isuzu Motors SA has just launched the mu-X sport utility vehicle into the South African market, which achieved 208 sales last month.
Sacke said their target was to achieve sales of between 1500 and 2000 units this year.
The mu-X competes with, among others, the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest.
Sacke said Isuzu was not as strong as it needed to be in this lifestyle and leisure segment and needed to grow its presence there.
He said the mu-X was the only model they imported fully built up into the country.
“Everything else on the truck and bakkie side is built or assembled in South Africa, so we are kind of unique in that respect,” he said.
Sacke confirmed that there was a possibility of producing the mu-X in South Africa, provided they could build up sufficient volumes.
“If we can get enough scale here and it makes sense to invest, we could do that. We just have to get the scale here,” he said.
Sacke added that they had engaged with the consultants that were devising the replacement policy for the APDP and were generally fine with what had been revealed to them.