Whitfield outlines motor industry objectives

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Whitfield outlines motor industry objectives

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South Africa’s motor industry was on course to produce one percent of the world’s automobiles by 2020, according to Mike Whitfield, president of Naamsa and managing director of the Nissan Group of Africa.

Addressing the CAR Conference at Kyalami, Whit eld said the country currently ranked 21st in the world
in terms of vehicle production, manufacturing 650 000 units annually to account for 0,7% of total global output.

“The industry’s objective is to lift the gure to 1% by 2020. Fortunately, we enjoy ongoing support and stimulation from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), highlighted by the Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) – which runs to 2020 – and its predecessor, the Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP).

“Both of the programmes have contributed to the local motor industry’s growing international competitiveness and have resulted in huge amounts of capital investment over the years,” he said.

According to Whitfield, the DTI had already appointed a technical team to assist in the development of a post 2020 master plan that aimed to ensure the long-term sustainability of the sector in terms of policy and support mechanisms. Other objectives were to increase investment, production and exports while creating more job opportunities.

Whitfield said the motor industry contributed 7,5% to the country’s GDP and represented a massive 33,5% in terms of manufacturing output. Accordingly, it played a vital role in the country’s economy.

“The current business environment is both tough and complex with macro-economic factors such as high interest rates, a weak rand and ongoing uctuations in the fuel price in uencing the market,” he said.

Other major influences he highlighted included rapid advances in technology, new players in the automotive sector – such as Uber, Google and Tesla – as well as changing consumer patterns.

Discussing the shifting landscape in terms of vehicle technology, Whiteld focussed on electrically powered cars. He said while the take-up in South Africa had been slow, he believed the expanding network of charging stations being established jointly by Nissan and BMW would help to boost sales.

When it came to state of the motor industry in other parts of Africa, Whit eld said there were challenges in terms of unclear automotive policies, strong used car markets, large numbers of grey imports and high interest rates. However, he maintained that there were also opportunities, including viable automotive assembly sectors and inter-regional trade agreements.

Whitfield summed up by echoing the thoughts of other speakers at the conference – that for South Africa’s motor industry to ourish it was vital that all players moved with the times in terms of innovation, new thinking, finding creative solutions and different ways of doing things.

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