In a vote of confidence in South Africa’s automotive industry, Nissan is to invest R1-billion in the expansion of its plant at Rosslyn outside Tshwane in order to double its capacity and to prepare for production of a new one-ton pick-up range aimed at both the local and export markets.
The company made the announcement on Wednesday to coincide with the visit to South Africa of Toshiyuki Shiga, chief operating officer of Nissan Motor Company of Japan.
Shiga told journalists at the Rosslyn plant that he was “here today to say we are now more interested in committing ourselves to business in Africa”. South Africa, he said, would “serve as our door to more of the continent”.
The move is also in response to the state’s Automotive Production and Development Plan (APDP), which will come into effect in 2013, aiming to pick up where the current industry plan leaves off by stimulating the expansion of local production to 1.2-million vehicles per annum by 2020, with an associated deepening of the local auto components industry.
According to reports, Nissan’s investment is aimed at doubling producation at the plant to about 100,000 units a year, starting from the 2014 financial year.
Nissan South Africa MD Mike Whitfield told reporters that the expansion of the plant would create about 800 new direct jobs and about 4,000 jobs in its supply chain.
Nissan SA would also be partnering with the Gauteng provincial government in investing an additional R200-million in setting up a training centre to ensure that the skills needed for the plant’s expansion were available.
Whitlfield said that the local content of the new pick-up, excluding the power train, would be increased from the 50% of the current Hardbody pick-up to 70% of its replacement.
National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA director Nico Vermeulen stated that Nissan’s investment showed confidence in South Africa’s industry.
“BMW launched its new 3-series, Ford its new Ranger, VW its Polo Vivo and so on, all recently,” Vermeulen said. “Toyota made a big investment in 2006.
“We can see that major automotive manufacturers are on course to work with the APDP, which shows the industry is on a good track.”