Isuzu supplies kits to Kenya

Kenyan drivers will soon be behind the wheel of Isuzu D-MAX bakkies manufactured in kit form in South Africa and sent to that country for assembly in the Isuzu manufacturing facility there.

Isuzu Motors South Africa in Port Elizabeth has started supplying the knocked down (KD) Isuzu D-MAX pick-up kits in what is the first intra-continental regional trade exchange of its kind for Isuzu on the continent and is aligned to its strategy for its South African vehicle assembly plant to serve as a hub for growing its overall volumes in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Lionel Terblanche, Isuzu Motors South Africa Knocked Down Coordinator

Isuzu Motors Limited, majority shareholder of Isuzu East Africa, regards the opportunities in Africa, based on infrastructural investment, to be significant. The East African operation previously focussed only on truck and bus assembly operations while fully importing light commercial vehicles from South Africa.

Isuzu is a leading brand in the East African markets, with a commanding 44,5%  share of the Kenyan new vehicle market in 2019.


Isuzu Motors South Africa CEO and Managing Director Michael Sacke said Isuzu’s market strength in East Africa can be contributed to the vehicles’ overall performance, reliability and customer satisfaction.

“We have put this project together in record time and anticipate it will result in a win-win for both South Africa and Kenya. Some of the vehicle kits have already arrived in Kenya and the Kenyan team received comprehensive training in Port Elizabeth late last year in preparation for actual operations,” he says.

The vehicle kits which are exported from the Port of Ngqura provides additional volume at the port while ensuring job retention at the South African plant.

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While volumes have been projected at 1 300 vehicles a year to Kenya through this KD programme, it is expected this will increase in the medium to long-term.

“The Kenya KD project is an important step in achieving our growth strategy which is geared at strengthening our presence in key Sub-Saharan Africa markets through a combination of tactical SKD initiatives as well as various initiatives to strengthen our dealer distribution network,” emphasised Sacke.


Rita Kavashe, Managing Director of Isuzu East Africa, welcomed the decision to import KD kits. She said the KD programme gives the Kenyan operation more flexibility and an opportunity to remain competitive.

“Our import tariffs are lower on the KD kits, we create employment and we positively influence employee and customer morale by assembling the Isuzu D-MAX locally.”


Isuzu Motors South Africa has a network of 79 dealers in South Africa and 33 in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Ford aids job creation

In one of the largest job creation projects in South Africa, where unemployment is rampant, some 81 hectare of land alongside the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) assembly plant in Silverton, Pretoria has been opened up to component suppliers with the potential of creating 7 000 new jobs.

President Cyril Ramaphosa officially opened the new economic zone.

The Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone, developed as a public-private partnership between FCMSA and national, provincial and local government, will cover 162 hectare and be responsible for 70 000 jobs in the total value chain.

Officially launched by South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, the Tshwane Automotive SEZ is an automotive component supplier industrial park that will play a significant role in bolstering further investment and job creation in the local economy. It will also be instrumental in enabling future expansion opportunities for Ford’s local operations.

“The launch of the Tshwane Automotive SEZ is a milestone achievement following five years of engagement between Ford Motor Company and government, specifically the Department of Trade and Industry,” says Neale Hill, MD of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “It is an exceptionally proud moment for Ford to have partnered with South African government in the creation and development of the Tshwane Automotive SEZ, as an enabler for economic development for the Gauteng Province, City of Tshwane and the surrounding communities.

Neale Hill

“The public-private partnership between all three spheres of government and the private sector is crucial in order to drive growth in the automotive industry, to create more jobs and to boost the economy. The government’s new region-based model for special economic zones is an important new tool to attract domestic and international investment, which will help businesses to become more competitive on a global scale.

“This exciting new project testifies to Ford’s ongoing commitment to South Africa as one of the country’s largest original equipment vehicle manufacturers, as well as that of key supplier companies that are essential cogs in the wheel as we drive towards creating a brighter and more prosperous future. It is only by government, industry and communities working hand-in-hand that we can create these opportunities and fulfil our true potential.”


While the Department of Trade and Industry is the key stakeholder, and is responsible for all 10 SEZs in South Africa, the Tshwane Automotive SEZ is a collaboration on a provincial level with the Gauteng Province, the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) and the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) which has been appointed the operating company for this SEZ. On a local government level, the project has partnered with the City of Tshwane and the Tshwane Economic Development Agency (TEDA).

As an extension of the Gauteng Province’s greater OR Tambo Special Economic Zone, the Tshwane Automotive SEZ is aimed at driving investment in the City of Tshwane, supporting the economic development of surrounding communities and, ultimately, becoming a world-class automotive manufacturing hub.

The Tshwane Automotive SEZ will be launched in several phases, with construction already underway for the initial 81 ha phase. Once completed, the SEZ will span 162 ha of land currently owned by the City of Tshwane. The SEZ forms an integral part of a broader township development that will benefit the surrounding communities of Mamelodi, Nellmapius and Eesterust.


“We currently have nine Ford supplier companies that have expressed keen interest in investing in the Tshwane Automotive SEZ, which will create approximately 7 000 jobs in the initial phase,” explains Ockert Berry, VP of Operations, Ford Middle East and Africa.

“Having these suppliers located adjacent to the Silverton Assembly Plant is a crucial step towards increasing the efficiency of our local operations, and unleashing further potential increases in production capacity for the domestic and export markets.

“In conjunction with the AIDC, we are engaging with further supplier companies to establish operations within the supplier park, which will ultimately create an estimated 70 000 jobs in the total value chain once completed,” Berry states.


Currently FMCSA exports the locally assembled Ford Ranger to more than 100 global markets. The Ranger is the country’s top light commercial vehicle (LCV) export, and is the best-selling pickup in Europe.

The Everest seven-seater sport utility vehicle (SUV) is also assembled locally for South African customers, and for export markets in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Over the past decade, Ford’s ongoing investment in its local operations, which amounts to more than R11-billion between 2009 and 2018, saw production capacities increase from around 25 000 vehicles to 110 000 per annum when the Ranger production and export programme commenced in 2011.

The most recent investment of approximately R3-billion in 2016 enabled the Silverton plant to further expand its production capacity, and it is currently capable of producing up to 168 000 vehicles a year, or 720 vehicles a day – with around two-thirds of these vehicles destined for export markets, predominantly in Europe and the UK.


Ford’s domestic turnover now contributes more than 1% to South Africa’s GDP. This makes the Silverton-based company a significant player in the country’s economy and manufacturing sector, as well as a major contributor to South Africa’s employment – both through direct jobs, and within the total value chain amongst supplier companies.

Along with the vehicle assembly operations in Pretoria, Ford Motor Company also supports two global diesel engine programmes at its Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth, with a combined production capacity of up to 250 000 engines per year.

Production commenced at the end of 2018 of the new-generation 2,0-litre Bi-Turbo and Single Turbo engines, with an installed capacity of 120 000 units per year. These engines are supplied to the Silverton Assembly Plant for use in the local and export Ranger, Ranger Raptor and Everest models.

Additionally, the Struandale Engine Plant is capable of producing up to 130 000 fully assembled 2,2-litre and 3,2-litre Duratorq TDCi engines, which are supplied to the Silverton vehicle plant for installation in the Ranger and Everest. Engines are also exported to North America, China and several customer plants in Europe.


Along with the assembly operations, the Port Elizabeth plant machines component sets, comprising the cylinder head, block and crankshaft for the existing 2.2 and 3.2 Duratorq TDCi engines. Following the recent investment and expansion, installed capacity climbed to its highest-ever figure of 280 000 sets per year to support export markets in Thailand and Argentina, as well as local engine assembly.

Facilities improved

The Hiace name has been given even further guarantees of longevity with the recent opening of a dedicated R454-million production facility at Toyota South Africa Motors’ (TSAM) production facility in Durban and attended by Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel.

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Minister Ebrahim Patel

“In terms of the South African Automotive Masterplan (SAAM), local automotive value addition needs to be exponentially increased. TSAM is committed to support the SAAM and has therefore proactively increased the local value addition of the Hiace Ses’fikile from 38% to 44%.

“This localisation has added R422-million a year local value addition to the economy. Even more encouraging is the fact that we have been able to create an additional 80 jobs in the process.” says Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of TSAM.

“The latest contribution places TSAM’s total investment in the Hiace Plant at more than R1-billion since our initial investment in 2012. In 2012 TSAM switched from importing the Hiace Taxi as a Complete Built up (CBU) to a Semi Knock-down (SKD) vehicle, and in 2015 to a Complete Knock-down (CKD).

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“Since the introduction of the local manufacture of this product we have seen the volumes increase from 9 300 units to 14 000 units per year, which equated to an increase of 37%. The most recent increase in demand from our customers to 15 000 units per annum has given us this opportunity to deepen our localisation, which will allow us to improve affordability over time.

“This investment of nearly half a billion rand by TSAM is another major vote of confidence in the capability of the South African automotive industry and the KwaZulu-Natal economy. Manufacturing is the largest contributor to economic output in the province, supporting more than 350 000 direct jobs.

“Since TSAM’s localisation programme began, more than 80 000 taxis have been assembled locally by Toyota. If each of those taxis opened their doors to commuters right now, more than a million South Africans would be able to climb in. The increased level of local content is an important part of the 2035 vision for the industry and will increase the participation of more South Africans in this thriving sector of the economy,” says Patel.

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According to Kirby: “The minibus taxi industry plays a pivotal role within the South African transport system, and as such, is important in supporting the wheels of our economy. TSAM is proud to be a part of this Industry and is continually looking for opportunities to participate in Social upliftment programmes. Today we would like to highlight two of these programmes that have a direct bearing on minibus taxi commuters and those who operate them.

“The first of these is the Safe2School, Safe2Home project focusing on improving the safe transport of learners traveling by minibus taxis to school. This initiative is one that I am personally passionate about, in that the Taxi owners, drivers, parents and teachers will be better educated on road safety. This initiative, together with the eThekweni Transport Authority and Global Road Safety Partnership (South Africa), will impact 120 taxi drivers and operators within 24 schools and approximately 6 800 learners.

“We have a tailor-made Taxi Education Programme, with the expressed aim of empowering taxi operators by providing them with business, leadership and entrepreneurial skills. About 600 taxi operators nationwide have already participated, with 645 planned over the next two years.”

TSAM also announced the start of its export operations to support local assembly of Hilux in Kenya. TSAM is embracing the direction of local assembly, and has therefore invested close to R20-million for the establishment of its packing plant to support this knock down business. The essence of manufacturing as intended under Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) remains intact.

There is no change to the value addition and employment has, however, with employment increasing by 20 additional people. Start of production in Kenya will be later in October 2019 and customers in Kenya will benefit by being able to buy their vehicles at a more competitive price.

TSAM is committed to the growth of the automotive industry and as such will continue its contribution to the social and economic development of Africa as a whole.



MAZ trucks to launch in SA

A new player is set to join the South African truck market in the form of the Belarus-based MAZ and it will have two trucks on display at Futuroad, the truck and bus expo, at Expo Centre, Nasrec, from September 18-21.


Valery Tarasenko, the local representative of the company, says they have been preparing to enter the African right-hand drive market for the past two years.

“We have completed homologation on several models, including the two we will have on display on our stand at Expo Centre – MAZ-656587 (8×4) a 27-ton tipper and a truck tractor MAZ-646087 which is capable of pulling a load of 60 tons on a dumper semi-trailer,” says Tarasenko.

MAZ has been making trucks at its plant in Minsk in the former Soviet Union since 1944 and has a very comprehensive range, focusing on heavy duty operations and special applications. The right-hand drive MAZ trucks are planned to be assembled at a factory in Richards Bay for sale in East and South Africa.

MAZ is also a regular and strong competitor in the annual Dakar Rally.

There will be five new truck model launches at Futuroad besides the presence of MAZ. The companies that will have special launch events are UD Trucks, Everstar Industries (Powerstar trucks), Daewoo, which is marketed through Tata in South Africa, MCC, Raw Industries, Next Group, Volvo, and Tata itself.

Futuroad, which is taking place for the second time in SA, is the only international trade fair of its kind to be staged on the African continent and targets a visitor audience from across Sub-Saharan Africa. Besides those companies doing launches, visitors can also expect to see JMC, FAW and FCA Group at the exhibition.

The fact that this biennial event is co-located with Automechanika Johannesburg makes it an ideal platform for exhibitors to grow their business footprint, particularly as the government is targeting increased automotive exports to grow the local economy.

Road transport is the lifeblood of Southern Africa. The truck market in South Africa has been bucking the trend in terms of vehicle sales trends in 2019, with sales up 3,3% year-to-date after the first 10 months of the year.

The truck and bus sales forecast for the year has now moved up to 26 000 units at a time when the country is in an official recession. The forecast at the beginning of the year was 25 400 units.

The Futuroad Expo will be an ideal opportunity for these fleet operators to compare the various makes and models of trucks and buses at a single venue over a period of four days.

Registration to Futuroad Expo, Automechanika Johannesburg and Scalex Expos is completely free, all you need to do is visit the website to secure your free visitor pass.

Africa pays attention

The increased activity by local automakers and importers in developing African markets is being reciprocated by unprecedented interest in Automechanika Johannesburg from other African countries this year.

MIAZ, the Motor Industry Association of Zimbabwe, is planning on bringing a delegation of buyers to the show this year, as well as at least 30 buyers from Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya.


Automechanika Johannesburg will be opened officially on Wednesday, September 18, and will then continue with the awarding of the various, highly valued Innovation Awards.

Many organisations and some companies are also using Automechanika as the venue for meetings, conferences, and workshops. Among those who have already booked events of this kind are: Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), Engine Remanufacturing Association (ERA), Collision Repairers’ Association (CRA), Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA), Fuel Retailers’ Association (FRA) and Safer Connected Mobility.

Many of the exhibitors will be taking the opportunity to announce new products and services during the show.


One of these is Gulf Oil, who is demonstrating interest in Africa, by launching the brand in South Africa amongst others in Africa. Gulf’s in-country resource, Godfrey Rajool, is a qualified metallurgist with more than 15 years’ experience with a major oil company in South Africa.

Rajool comments the new company is already operating in the lubricants market, with warehouses holding stock in Jet Park, Gauteng, as well as in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Gulf has appointed a national distributor, Shakti Lubricants, which is headed up by Donovan Ivemperumal, previous technical manager at one of the leading oil companies.

Godfrey Rajool (left) and Donovan Ivemperumal

Joshua Low, Managing Director of Messe Frankfurt South Africa, says he is pleased at the positive response from both exhibitors and the rate at which visitors are registering.

A big draw card for this year’s event is the major focus on skills development by the organisers. There will be a free-to-attend, 3-day programme aimed at sharing knowledge and upskilling attendees.

There will also be a variety of interactive elements such as a tyre changing competition, the Automechanika Body & Paint World Championship which already took place in the United Kingdom in June and will continue in many other countries before the grand finale in Frankfurt in 2020. Also, there will be an all new virtual reality zone where visitors can explore the latest technology through VR.


“This enthusiasm shows the importance of the world-renowned Automechanika trade fair for the automotive aftermarket in a period of subdued new vehicle sales and the growing importance of the correct maintenance and repairs for motorists and transport operator,” concludes Low.

Ford ramps up production

Everything considered, good news seems fairly hard to come by so the fact Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) is taking on 1 200 additional workers to staff a third shift at the Silverton Plant, Pretoria, qualifies as great news.

The third shift is to meet the growing international and local demand for the New Ranger, Ranger Raptor and Everest.


The additional shift, which commences in August this year, will create 1 200 new jobs at the Silverton plant, taking Ford’s total employment in South Africa to approximately 5 500 employees. At the same time, it will significantly bolster supplier companies by adding around 10 000 jobs in this sector. In total, Ford’s local vehicle assembly operations will now support some 60 000 jobs within the total value chain.

“The R3-billion investment in our South African plants, announced in 2017, is now coming to fruition with the addition of a third shift to increase our production output,” says Ockert Berry, Vice President Operations, Ford Middle East and Africa.


“The investment enabled extensive reworks at the Silverton Assembly Plant to expand our production capacity from 124 000 vehicles per year to 168 000 units, which is 58 000 vehicles more than our original capacity when the current Ranger programme commenced in 2011.

“The third shift will allow us to ramp up our production from the current 506 vehicles assembled per day to a peak of 720 units to satisfy the strong demand from customers in South Africa, as well as for our crucial exports to 148 markets around the world.”

Kicking off at the beginning of August, the Silverton Assembly Plant will run around the clock using a three-shift pattern from Monday to Thursday, with the additional Friday third shift available to address any potential shortfalls in the production schedule.


“In addition to the job opportunities created for hourly employees, the new shift makes provision for 104 skilled artisans and technicians who have been appointed as permanent employees, thus adding to the skills set of our staff complement in Silverton,” says Berry.

Thanks to Ford Motor Company’s ongoing investment in South Africa, which reached R11-billion between 2009 and 2018, Ford’s domestic turnover now accounts for 1% of the country’s GDP. This makes the Silverton-based company a significant player in the country’s economy and manufacturing sector, as well as a major contributor to South Africa’s employment –  both through direct jobs, and within the total value chain amongst supplier companies.

Approximately two thirds of Ford’s local production is exported to 148 global markets, with the balance sold in South Africa and Sub-Saharan African countries. The Ranger leads the light commercial vehicle (LCV) sector exports, with the locally-built model consistently ranked as the top-selling pickup in Europe.

As demand for the New Ranger and the exceptional Ranger Raptor continues to grow in Europe, Ford began exporting vehicles through Port Elizabeth in April this year – a strategic move to address the high level of congestion at the Durban Harbour’s Roll On Roll Off (RORO) Terminal, which is the country’s primary import and export hub.


The multi-port strategy makes effective use of Transnet’s rail infrastructure to transport vehicles from the Silverton plant to the Port Elizabeth vehicle terminal. Approximately 1 000 Rangers are being exported via this new route each month, which has improved the efficiency and delivery timeframes to European markets.

Port Elizabeth is also home to Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant, which supports two global diesel engine programmes. Production commenced at the end of last year of the new-generation 2,0-litre Bi-Turbo and Single Turbo engines that are used in selected Ranger and Everest models, with an installed capacity of 120 000 engines a year – all of which are supplied to the Silverton Assembly Plant.

Additionally, the Struandale plant continues machining component sets, comprising the cylinder head, block and crankshaft, for the existing 2,2-litre and 3,2-litre Duratorq TDCi engine. Following the recent investment and expansion, installed capacity climbed to its highest-ever figure of 280 000 sets a year to support export markets in Thailand and Argentina, as well as local engine assembly.


Besides supplying fully assembled engines to Silverton for installation in the Ranger and Everest, the local plant also ships engines to North America, China and several customer plants in Europe with a production capacity of up to 130 000 units per year.

BMW icon reborn

There is a wonderful South African saying – ‘Boer maak a plan’ – which, translated back into English as ‘Farmer makes a plan’ does not quite capture the true meaning or convey the intent to overcome whatever the circumstances.

So, when BMW South Africa wanted to go racing in the mid-1970s, a time when the country was something of a world pariah and had limited access to much of the then current automotive technology or models, the company made a plan and sought out famous racing driver and Head of BMW Motorsport Jochen Neerpasch.


Shortly thereafter, two of the first generation BMW 5 Series (E12) race cars were prepared to compete in the flagship Modified Production Series in South Africa.

The BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition (MLE) rolled up to the starting line in the Modified Production Series in 1976. Fifteen wins from 15 consecutive starts followed and BMW stamped its authority on the racing series with three championship titles in three years. The BMW 530 MLE was the most successful racing BMW 5 Series in history when it was retired in 1985.

To qualify for entry, however, BMW South Africa had to sell 100 road-going versions of this first generation BMW 5 Series, known as the 530 MLE, to the public. Developed by BMW Motorsport as a limited edition ‘homologation’ model for South Africa, 110 units of the Type 1 were produced in 1976, while 117 versions of the Type 2 rolled off the production line at BMW Group Plant Rosslyn in 1977.

The six cylinder engine was a factory tweaked version of the same unit found in the 3.0L, boasting figures such as 147 kW, 277 Nm, a 208 km/h top speed and a 0 – 100 km/h sprint time of 9., seconds. It proved to be an early step of BMW Motorsport’s ventures into track oriented cars for the road.


And now, the restoration of the last SA-only built BMW 530 Motorsport Limited Edition (MLE) is now at an advanced stage. In April this year, the revival process of the legendary classic car began. The car was stripped down from its rusty condition, cleaned and received its first coat of paintwork. A number of new and old parts were neatly laid out waiting to be assembled into various parts of the car.

At the beginning of July 2019, car number 100 was painted to its original Chamonix White metallic paint. Friday, July 12 saw another milestone of the restoration being reached – the body shell mounted onto the suspension of the car. The bare engine was also started for the first time after more than 20 years and will soon be installed into the vehicle.

After years of searching, BMW South Africa acquired one of the only BMW 530 MLEs known to have endured beyond its 70s heyday. Car number 100, which came with a particular pedigree, was owned by race driver and the racing 530 MLE’s team manager Peter Kaye-Eddie and its engine and chassis numbers are a matching set. In December 2018, BMW South Africa embarked on an exciting journey in its classic car expedition to restore this lauded model.


The restoration process included the input of BMW Group South Africa employees who assembled the original vehicles. Unique in the world, the Rosslyn-produced vehicles saw weight-reduction measures that included bodywork and pedals drilled by hand, manual windows with no air-conditioning and Mahle wheels.

South Africa enjoys a long history of rare and storied BMW special editions. In 1973, BMW Group Plant Rosslyn was the very first BMW plant established outside of Germany and several models were specially built for the local market until 1990. A growing list of these have been meticulously restored by BMW South Africa in later years, including the cult classic BMW 333i and BMW 325iS. The restoration of the 1976 BMW 530 MLE, is led by Luis Malhou of Custom Restorations.

The restored BMW 530 MLE is scheduled to be unveiled in the last quarter of this year (2019). Follow #BMW530MLE on social media to see the progress of the restoration.