Mitsubishi CEO Thato Magasa, deputy minister of transport Lisa Mangcu, deputy president Paul Mashatile, Isuzu CEO Billy Tom, Naamsa CEO Mikel Mabasa and BMW CEO Peter van Binsbergen.
South African Auto Week (SAAW) 2023 was another highlight during Transport Month.
Organised by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), the three-day event at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand was billed as the only event of its kind to have representation by all 48 vehicle brands in the country.
A packed agenda included seminars, panel discussions and glimpses of new products on the exhibition floor.
TimesLIVE Motoring attended the opening of the conference on Wednesday last week, culminating in a gala dinner on Friday, at which Deputy President Paul Mashatile addressed attendees.
Mashatile noted the global automotive industry is at a crossroads in the transition to electrified new energy vehicle (NEV) offerings, adding that a conducive policy framework will allow manufacturers to produce models kinder to the environment in addition to driving expansion and creating jobs.
“Government remains ready to partner with the sector for the future. I am convinced we will succeed,” he said.
“We will do everything in our power to safeguard the value of your assets for the foreseeable future,” Mashatile told representatives of manufacturers with local operations.
Deputy minister of transport Lisa Mangcu commended the local industry for coming together to fight for the common good.
“Government should look at incentives to create an environment in which the industry will thrive,” said Mangcu.
At the opening , Naamsa CEO Mikel Mabasa said it was important to secure the viability and growth of the local automotive industry, given its contribution to the economy. According to Naamsa, the sector employs 497,408 people formally and informally.
Mabasa was joined by fellow members of the Naamsa board — Billy Tom, CEO of Isuzu Motors SA, Peter van Binsbergen, CEO of BMW SA, Thato Magasa, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors SA, Neale Hill, president of Ford SA, and Norman Lamprecht, Naamsa executive for trade, exports and research. Lamprecht was standing in for Jan Aichinger, MD of MAN Automotive SA.
• In 2022 South African vehicle production totalled 555,889 units
• SA ranks 22nd in global vehicle production
• There are 13-million registered vehicles in SA
• South African-built vehicles are exported to 152 markets
• NEV sales grew from 202 units in 2018 to 4,674 in 2022
• The best-selling import in 2022 was the Suzuki Swift (13,032 units)
• R227.3bn in automotive export earnings was generated in 2022
While supply chain disruptions, economic slowdown, energy crises and international turmoil were cited among the issues affecting the local market, the presentation by the board forecast domestic new vehicle sales would increase by 6.3% this year to 563,000 units.
Load-shedding was described as being a significant challenge to manufacturing and the value chain. According to Naamsa, for the year-to-date October 2023, the country had been load-shed for 5,833 hours, amounting to 243 days.
Deteriorating ports, rail and road infrastructure and rising logistics costs were noted as further impediments to the sector.
Tom expected a buying down trend to continue as affordability pressures drive purchasing decisions.
The new MD of Stellantis SA, Mike Whitfield, followed-up the opening discussion with an address about future plans to produce the Peugeot Landtrek bakkie in Mzansi.
“Our objective is not just SA, but Africa and the Middle East. Africa has a pressing need for mobility solutions.”
Whitfield said a skilled workforce, established components sector and a willingness to engage between government, labour and industry were part of the positives of the local industry.
Strolling through the displays on the exhibition floor, there were noteworthy showcases, such as the Volkswagen ID.Buzz Cargo electric commercial vehicle. Toyota had a static display of its hydrogen Mirai which had been in action earlier this month at the Smarter Mobility Africa 2023 event.
Stimulating NEV production and uptake is a big part of the future Naamsa agenda. To this end, the announcement of an NEV policy by the government is expected next month, which is said to outline factors such as adoption and investment.