15 April 2019

South Africa: SA's Car Manufacturing System Could Help to Get SA's Industrial Development On the Road


To great political applause, car company Nissan has said it will spend R3-billion on its plant in Rosslyn outside Pretoria to build the Navara model. Announcements like these regularly punctuate the news; it's all part of SA's grand Automotive Production and Development Programme, arguably the crown of SA's interventionist industrial effort. But if this policy is working so well -- and it does seem it is -- why is it not being applied to other sectors?

Japanese car company Nissan announced recently that it would be building a new model in South Africa, in this case, the Navara, a rather snazzy-looking bakkie, and as always that entails a wodge of new cash.

These announcements are a regular part of the SA's car scene. BMW announced in 2016 a R6-billion investment to prepare for X3. In 2018 Mercedes-Benz announced a R10-billion investment to expand its East London plant. The other major car companies in SA, of which there is an extraordinary number, have made similar announcements over the years.

Gearing up to build a new model is a serious business in the car industry. Behind these headline announcements are massive efforts, beyond the conception of most consumers. Every car build requires...

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