The burgeoning East London industrial development zone will attract additional investment if DaimlerChrysler SA succeeds in its bid to nearly double production at its assembly plant by 2007.

The burgeoning East London industrial development zone will attract additional investment if DaimlerChrysler South Africa (DCSA) succeeds in its bid to nearly double production at its assembly plant by 2007.

CARtoday.com reported earlier this year that DCSA was bidding for the contract to manufacturer the new generation of Mercedes-Benz C-Class vehicles - a deal that could lead to a billion-rand investment for the East London region. A decision was expected to be made in October.

The manufacturer would need another eight to 10 suppliers if it succeeded in expanding production to 80 000 to 100 000 units a year by 2007, chairman Christoph Kopke said recently.

The investment in DaimlerChrysler's existing and new network was estimated at R6bn, should the SA company get the go-ahead from its German parent. Kopke was confident this would happen.

The East London zone is one of four duty-free zones designed to attract export-led manufacturing investment to SA. Government is pumping billions of rands into infrastructure at the zones.

It has also emerged that one of three textile groups that have committed themselves to establishing operations worth R400m in SA is likely to settle in the duty-free zone.

"We are in talks with more than 50 potential investors," said head of the zone, Peter Miles, at a conference to attract foreign and domestic investors to the region last week.

The East London zone had hoped to be the first operational industrial development zone in the country, with two tenants secured at an early stage. It appeared, however, that German investors Weissengold and Condomi's commitment to operations in SA was wavering.

A zone spokesman said Weissengold had assured management of its commitment despite a delay in establishing a brewing plant. Construction at the Condomi condom plant stopped about six months ago.

Original article from Car