Electric car plant mooted for town
Mossel Bay Municipality was approached by a high level delegation of the Ithuba Savings and Credit Holdings Group (ISC Group) last week to consider the establishment of an assembly plant and or manufacturing hub for electrical vehicles in the area and to develop a sustainable smart town for industrial, commercial and residential development within the Garden Route.
The delegation included Jean Bilala, chairman of the ISC Group as well as the CEO of the ISC Bank in Germany, Emiley Vollmer.
Although the meeting was exploratory, talks centred on the establishment of an assembly plant for the NIO Eve, a technologically advanced electrical vehicle that can drive itself using artificial intelligence. It is a concept car by NIO, with a working prototype that was unveiled in 2017. The car is said to be an autonomous vehicle, but can be manually driven if chosen. Vollmer said they intend for the car to be in production by 2020.
The group has signed a memorandum of understanding late in September with the Garden Route district municipality for cooperation in establishing and identifying land and infrastructure required to implement investment goals; and to exchange information and identification of business opportunities to enhance mutual interests for the Garden Route and Western Cape Province.
Vollmer, who is based in Germany, said: "By 2020 Germany wants to eliminate all fossil fuel-driven vehicles from its roads." She added that the technology involved in the NIO (meaning first) Eve (referring to the fact that the vehicle is being brought to market by a woman) will soon become the norm.
"Opportunities come and go," Vollmer said when she discussed the possibility of establishing an assembly plant for the NIO Eve in Mossel Bay.
She said the venture would result in many job opportunities, should it go ahead, and added that training, education and higher learning would form a core component.
"We invest by heart," said Bilala. He mentioned that the ISC Group was looking for land to establish a manufacturing plant for its electrical vehicles for which the group had a confirmed order of 50 000 units for Burundi.
He said the Mossel Bay harbour formed an important part of the plans, saying he group would want to have the first of the cars off the assembly line by the end of next year.
The assembly plant would, in turn, create opportunities for related industries, such as upholstery and the likes to add to the venture.
The municipality discussed various options of available land and escorted the delegation to Mossdustria for an in loco inspection of what is available.
The meeting concluded that follow-up discussions would take place in Indonesia with the Mossel Bay delegation that would visit that country soon.
The Nio Eve at the launch in 2017.