Could South Africa build a South African car for the global market and what would it entail? The issue was this week discussed by the SA Bureau of Standards and research group CSIR.

Could South Africa build a South African car for the global market and what would it entail? The issue was this week discussed by the SA Bureau of Standards and research group CSIR.

According to , the two groups have proposed that a South African car be built to further establish the local motor industry in the global market.

The SABS and CSIR also looked at the country’s strengths in the manufacturing industry. Hoffie Maree, the director of manufacturing materials at CSIR, told the newspaper that it would cost a few million rands to build a South African car, but it would show the ability of the local market.

Maree said it was not about actually building the vehicle, but looking at what parts could be built in the country. “We can make leather seats and exhaust catalytic converters, but how many other examples of parts that we need to put a whole car together are available?” Maree asked.

”What are our niche strengths? Is it engine technology or casting technology, and can we make use of our low-cost energy and competitive labour?”

CAR magazine editor John Wright said building a new local car would be very expensive. “We do have the technology to build a local car as lots of engines are built and assembled here and other car parts. But building a new car would be expensive. It would cost more than a few million; we’d be looking at a few billion dollars to put an all new and properly engineered car into series production. A few years ago, when Ford built the previous Mondeo, they said it cost them $6 billion. The major cost lies in mass production tooling,” he said.

Wright said that there had been a few very high local content cars, like the Ranger, Toyota TUV and Nomad. “But the Nomad had very rough technology and the TUV was not very popular. However, a car like the Volkswagen CitiGolf is almost an SA car; it has 80 per cent local content and is not made anywhere else in the world. Its technology is old and has been amortised and the cost is not high. The Toyota Tazz and Mazda 323 could also be put into this category. That is why these cars can sell so cheaply here,” he said.

"However, if the thrust of this project is to establish how many more components can be made competitively in South Africa, then there is a lot of potential,” he said.

What do you think?

Original article from Car