New statistics published by the Automotive Industry Export Council show that the value of South Africa’s automotive exports has doubled from R20 billion to R40 billion since 2000.

New statistics published by the Automotive Industry Export Council show that the value of South Africa’s automotive exports has doubled from R20 billion to R40 billion since 2000.

But although the statistics are a testimony to the success of the Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP), analysts say the pace of export growth may be hit this year by the strong rand and the depressed global economy.

The council's statistics show that vehicle sales shot up in value from R7,4 billion in 2000 to R11,4 billlion in 2001 and R17,2 billion last year. The automotive component sector saw a surge in exports from R12,6 billion in 2000 to R18,6 billion in 2001, with a slight slowdown in the pace of growth to a figure of R22,9 billion last year.

Naamsa chief executive Nico Vermeulen said the surge in the value of exports in recent years had partly been due to increased volumes and the weaker rand.

Vermeulen said the momentum of export growth would be affected by the strengthening of the rand in the second half of last year. However, "South Africa is a competitive source for the production of automotive products, and we have an established track record," he added.

The head of the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (Naacam), Clive Williams, also welcomed the figures, and noted with satisfaction that there was now a growing diversity of components being exported from SA.

In 2000, seat parts and seat covers and catalytic converters accounted for 52,3 per cent of all SA component exports, and this percentage grew slightly to 54,2 per cent in 2002.

However, the momentum in the growth of catalytic converter exports - which account for 40 per cent of all South Africa’s automotive component exports - appears to be slowing down, quoted Williams as saying.

Williams said he was pleased to see higher volumes of other component products, as it would be good for the automotive component industry to have a broadly based export profile. Key growth areas included tyres, car radios, radiators, wheels and automotive glass.

Williams warned that the strong rand was having an effect on the export earnings of the local catalytic converter industry: "Some catalytic converter exporters have seen a 10 per cent fall in volume terms in the last three, four or five months – everyone has the same problem of the strong rand."

However, he said, it was encouraging that component exporters in general appeared to have held their ground in the first quarter of this year, although it looked as if the rate of export growth would drop off in the second quarter.

"People who signed contracts when the rand was at R10, R11 or R12 to the dollar are struggling hugely," he added.

Original article from Car