NISSAN, buoyed by its best year of sales in South Africa since 2000, has invested about R1 billion (over US$80 million) to increase the efficiency of its plant at Rosslyn in the capital Pretoria.
The investment is set to increase automation without reducing jobs, and in training and skills development for its employees.
Mike Whitfield, Managing Director of Nissan South Africa, disclosed the investment on Wednesday.
“Nissan is now poised to build on our success with further growth in Africa,” said Whitfield.
Rosslyn is Nissan’s manufacturing hub for the rest of the continent where demand is growing rapidly.
Nissan has developed its supplier base with initiatives to encourage young black entrepreneurs to become suppliers.
The company continues to produce a high number of engineers at Rosslyn through its graduate development programme and has been supporting South Africa employees to become master trainers by sending them to Nissan manufacturing plants across the world.
Whitfield said the global automotive industry was going through revolutionary technological change, with electric vehicles, autonomous driving and connectivity.
He said South Africa had the potential to lead Africa in embracing this change, much to the growth of the economy stand to benefit.
“To do that we need to ensure that the infrastructure and support is in place in South Africa to help build demand for these products,” Whitfield said.
Whitfield said Africa had huge potential. Its middle class is forecast to grow from 137 million people in 2009 to 341 million by 2030.
Nissan was the first mover to assemble cars in Nigeria, supplied from South Africa and is now exploring new manufacturing opportunities in the continent.
He said the automotive industry had been a driver of economic growth around the world for a century, and Africa would be next.
“What is needed now is a conducive environment, including the further development of free trade areas, for the continent to flourish,” Whitfield added.
Nissan has recorded its best year of sales in South Africa in 18 years. It has hit 10 percent market share in 2017.
To drive future growth Nissan will focus on further developing its dealership network in South Africa with an improved customer experience and enhanced facilities.
The company will continue to work to increase its share of the passenger vehicle market, while maintaining its strong position in bakkies.
– CAJ News