Local focus will deliver growth

A state-of-the-art trim and JIT assembly plant built by Adient South Africa at Rosslyn, near Pretoria, represents a positive move forward for the country’s automotive manufacturing sector, according to the National Association of Component and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM).
In a statement, NAACAM says the facility demonstrates the country’s ability to meet the demands of some of the world’s most exacting clients – in this case, BMW, which will use seat assemblies and covers manufactured at the plant for its new X3 model.
“The investment demonstrates the value of localisation. Development of the world-class, $7,4-million (about R102-million) plant was the result of close collaboration and skills-transfer between Adient South Africa and Adient teams around the world, and the plant provides employment for 370 people who will contribute to growth in both the footprint and service quality of South Africa’s local manufacturing sector,” says Renai Moothilal, NAACAM’s Executive Director.
He adds that the component manufacturing sector has seen greater interest in localisation opportunities by vehicle assemblers in the past year, which NAACAM believes is in line with expectations of an APDP policy shift that will give greater incentive recognition to domestic value-add in the post-2020 period.
“Such investment showcases the capability of, and trust in, South Africa-based suppliers, and we look forward to seeing more such examples,” he says.
According to Moothilal, Adient is no stranger to South Africa. Based in Michigan in the US, the automotive parts manufacturer entered the local market in 1994, and now operates four plants in Southern Africa – the Rosslyn facility, a seating plant in Silverton, Pretoria, a JV metals plant in Port Elizabeth, and a cut-and-sew plant in Lesotho.
However, he points out that despite success stories, NAACAM believes more needs to be done in terms of how much local content international vehicle manufacturers source from South African businesses, and also the number of partnerships established between local manufacturers and sub-suppliers.
“It is only through this type of sector-wide localisation that South Africa can hope to compete directly with other emerging automotive economies, such as those in Thailand, Turkey and Mexico,” Moothilal says.
“Without such competitiveness built into our national policy and transformational goals, we run the risk of losing status as a serious and dynamic manufacturer of automotive products – limiting the local sector’s ability to expand; to hire more people; forge new partnerships; increase local skill levels and, ultimately, drive our economy into a more prosperous, more inclusive, and more impactful phase of growth.”