Isuzu Motors SA officially launched
Isuzu Motors announced the official launch of its business operations in South Africa. This follows the announcement late last year that it would purchase the light commercial vehicle operations in Port Elizabeth and also the balance of shareholding in its Isuzu Trucks South Africa.
The event was held last week at the manufacturing plant in Struandale, Port Elizabeth. President and representative director of Isuzu Motors of Japan, Masanori Katayama, said that Isuzu was committed to growing its business in South Africa. “This is the first commercial and light commercial vehicle manufacturing operation outside of Japan in which we have acquired a 100% ownership. We are represented in 30 countries outside of Japan and successfully operate 47 manufacturing plants in these countries with joint venture partners.
“Our decision with regards to South Africa demonstrates the confidence we have in this market and also is indicative of our longer-term view that South Africa will serve as an important base for our future growth on the African continent,” he said.
Isuzu is making positive strides in Africa and a year ago the company acquired a 57,7% majority shareholding in the Kenyan truck and bus assembly operation, which supplies Isuzu vehicles to East African markets.
Isuzu also has a 20% shareholding in a joint venture manufacturing operation, in Egypt, where the company has led the market for 10 years. The light commercial vehicle pickup that is produced there and which accounts for over 90% share of the market segment, is derived from the Isuzu KB pick-up.
Also speaking at the launch event, Isuzu Motors South Africa CEO and MD Michael Sacke said that the company’s initial focus would be to fully consolidate its operations while laying the foundation for the company’s future success.
“Our short-term focus is on implementing our transitional plans, ensuring the sustainability of our operations, further strengthening our product portfolio and relocating the truck operations from Kempston Road to the Struandale plant. As we do this, we will need to demonstrate excellence in everything we do and the ability to lead in key segments of the market.”
He said that in the medium term the company would need to plan for the successful launch of future products, implement measures to increase its domestic market share and increase its exports into Sub-Saharan Africa markets.
Sacke said that the company was already making good progress in achieving these objectives and that last year Isuzu trucks accounted for around 15% of the medium and heavy commercial market, thus cementing its leadership position in these segments of the market for over five years in a row. “In 2017, and in an environment where we were transitioning our business to a new business model, we grew our Isuzu KB volume by 14,8% versus the same period the previous year. This gave us a share of 14% in the pick-up D segment of the market, thus demonstrating the confidence that South African consumers have in our brand and vehicles.”
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, said that South Africa’s automotive industry is a global, turbo-charged engine for the manufacture and export of vehicles and components. He said many of the major multinational firms use South Africa to source components and assemble vehicles for the local and international markets.
“With its ability to link throughout the economy, the government has identified the automotive industry as a key growth sector. The auto industry is important to the future of manufacturing in this country and whatever emerges in the future will be based on a significant level of support for it going forward. The sector contributes 7,5% of South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product and employs about 113 000 people directly. It is key to ensuring greater economic growth,” said Davies.
From left: ambassador of Japan to South Africa Shigeyuki Hiroki, Isuzu Motors president and director Masanori Katayama, Isuzu Motors senior executive officer and Isuzu Motors South Africa chairman Haruyasu Tanishige, and Isuzu Motors South Africa CEO and managing director Michael Sacke.