South Africa Must Rev Up Its Motor Manufacturing Engine or Miss the Bus

opinion

The next century will be very different from the last, and any manufacturer looking to stay ahead must innovate in order to keep the wheels turning. There are lessons in this for South Africa, too, given its big bet on car manufacturing. Will we adapt or break down?

Technology is shaping the future of mobility, from electric vehicles to autonomous cars and e-hailing services, which eliminate the need for a car completely. A visit to leading car and motorcycle manufacturers in China and Japan reveals a century of crisis, learning, adaptation and reinvention.

The entrance to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology in Nagoya, Japan, has a large circular loom in the entrance. The mammoth machine was invented by Sakichi Toyoda, whose fortune seeded the Toyota empire. His Type G loom was sold to Platt Bros & Co Ltd Oldham in 1929 for £100,000. Not only did the Type G permit non-stop shuttle changing, but its system automatically shut down the loom if a warp thread snapped.

Mr Toyoda's Type G Loom. The sale of this loom to Platt Bros. of England made it possible for Mr Toyoda's son, Kiichiro, to diversify into cars.

An illustration of Japanese...

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