Eastern Cape’s truck making boom — Volkswagen Constellation

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Eastern Cape’s truck boom

Roux van Zyl

10 June

Passenger cars may be the big brother of the Cape automotive manufacturing but behind the scenes a bustling truck and bus sector is poised to its first big strides.

The growing and a construction boom are only two of the forces pulling the commercial section out of its infancy and onto its own — in fact, a wrap of Africa’s vehicle sales for 2007 show that vehicles sales have to grow, while passenger sales have slumped.

is good news for Port General Motors (GMSA) and (VWSA) and Mercedes-Benz (MBSA) in London, where the province’s commercial vehicles are assembled.

decades of truck-building

The Eastern oldest truck maker, for instance, achieved a record with its commercial vehicle selling 8 622 units in 2007, an overall market share of

All the truck models built at the car giant’s East London including the Mercedes-Benz Axor, and Mitsubishi FUSO ranges, are for the South African market.

spokesperson Shirle Greig they have been trucks in East London 1962, although the company’s has changed over the years, Car Distributors Assembly to United Car and Distributors to Mercedes-Benz SA, and most to DaimlerChrysler SA.


In March 2002, TruckTech took over the of Mercedes-Benz’s trucks.

The first truck built in South in 1962 was the LP911, the first in the enormously popular L-series, its rounded lines and distinctive

The LP911 had a nine-ton gross mass (GVM) with a 4.5 payload, a 110 horse-power indirect diesel engine and at the time it was says Greig. In those the Mercedes-Benz truck had one of the smallest of the commercial vehicle market pie, and was seen more in than in cities.

‘Hard-working’ commercial vehicles

The truck in Port Elizabeth is somewhat than the four decade-old but already General Motors hard-working light commercial lines, like the Isuzu KB and the Utility bakkies, make up of its output.

GMSA spokesperson van Huyssteen says that of the vehicles produced by GMSA year were light vehicles while only were passenger vehicles.

The was indeed hard-working in 2007 and a 23% share of the light commercial market in South Africa this after they the market over the past years.

We launched the new Isuzu KB towards the end of and expect that in 2008 our of this popular car line increase, says Van Huyssteen.

their medium and heavy vehicles controlled 8.4% of the African market share in

We will be looking to grow share in 2008. The trucks we supply to this segment of the are through our 50/50 joint company with Isuzu, Isuzu Truck South she says. We import limited of light commercial vehicles and include the Lumina Utility and the Vivaro.

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The coming year more hard work, and will be launching six new passenger in South Africa as well as commercial vehicles.

Mzantsi Truck and Bus

Uitenhage-based South Africa’s Mzantsi and Bus manufacturer started operating in 2006 at the VWSA commercial plant.

Mzantsi is responsible for assembly, maintenance and warehouse while Volkswagen is responsible for assurance, logistics and information product and process engineering and that Mzantsi performs to international standards.

Mzantsi has to employed more than 20 new mainly from an automotive of excellence, the Uitenhage-Despatch Development training centre, a school of that is a public-private partnership economic activity in the two Eastern towns.

Mzantsi director and production manager Vusikaya finds his job challenging and exciting, the first 20 months proved to be a learning curve.

The name came up spontaneously and soon popularity within the group. It is an Nguni name for the South, has acquired a street-wise connotation refers to South Africa, says. Since it was the first that Volkswagen was building and buses in Southern Africa, we the name most appropriate for exciting venture.

Responding to a question about the of their business, Mancapa The expected return on our investment in is not lucrative in the short-to-medium term. Our — as well as our profit — are pinned on sustained growth in the medium to long

Three bus and five truck ranges are currently assembled at the plant. In its first year the company built 122 buses and no but by last year 213 new Constellation were assembled and 46 buses built.

Mzantsi Truck and Bus Banoyolo Hlalukana says while the manufacturing facility has the same in 2008, more will be produced — 600 units in total — a indication that their work to date is being by growth.

This article was first in Eastern Cape Madiba winter 2008 edition. here with kind

Vw cross constellation
Vw cross constellation
Vw cross constellation

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