Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Davies upbeat about SA auto industry

Time of article published Jul 9, 2012

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The South African automotive industry has a promising future with upward growth momentum‚ Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies says.

Speaking at the official opening of the Toyota Ses’fikile taxi assembly line at Toyota South Africa Motors’ manufacturing facility at Prospecton‚ Durban‚ on Friday‚ Davies expressed his satisfaction that government interaction with the industry had contributed to the opening of the Toyota Ses’fikile taxi assembly line.

The plant will enable the semi-knockdown production of a 16-seater Quantum Ses’fikile – one seat more than the previously imported 15-seater minibus to be manufactured in SA.

“Towards the end of 2010‚ government had various discussions with minibus original equipment manufacturers including the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). These discussions were centred on major projects aimed at minibus localisation and deepening in the sector‚” he said.

“Arising from these interactions‚ amongst other things‚ Toyota made an unequivocal commitment‚ and it is already in the process of investing up to R70m in plant and facilities to commence production of the Quantum in 2012‚” he said.

Davies said the automotive industry remained the largest and leading manufacturing sector in the domestic economy.

“It has strong linkages with other industries across the South African economic landscape. Through backward linkages it draws in products from a range of other manufacturing sectors including steel‚ metal‚ plastic and leather products. Forward linkages extend to financial services‚ motor retail and advertising‚” he said.

He said the Industrial Policy Action Plan 2 put forward a medium and heavy commercial vehicle development action plan that revolved around the completion of a study to identify opportunities and interventions to resuscitate the medium and heavy commercial vehicle sector.

Davies said the rationale behind this plan was that the medium and heavy commercial vehicle sector was labour intensive in terms of assembly‚ while a more active sector could also broaden South Africa’s component manufacturing industry.

He said government policy stance had always been to create this window of opportunity for minibus manufacturers to make the necessary investment to localise their production facilities.

Johan van Zyl‚ president of Toyota South Africa Motors‚ said the first locally assembled units reached dealers in May 2012 and featured various improvements that had been welcomed as a major boost for taxi operators’ profitability.

Van Zyl said the local assembly of people movers was one of the first fruits of the government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan 2 and the upcoming Automotive Production and Development Programme. He said these plans sought to further develop the automotive and general manufacturing sectors by emphasising local manufacturing‚ local part sourcing‚ and local employment and personnel development.

The Toyota Ses’fikile taxi assembly line created 90 new jobs in the start-up phase and a further 210 new positions created in upstream and downstream suppliers and service providers to support this initiative.

Locally manufactured Toyota models are exported to 57 countries‚ and the Ses’fikile and Hino-ranges are exported to Botswana‚ Lesotho‚ Namibia and Swaziland‚ with a view to exploring other markets in sub-Saharan Africa. - I-Net Bridge

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