Tata Motors Opens New Commercial Vehicle Plant in South Africa

Tata Motors recently opened a new facility in South Africa for assembling commercial vehicles as they try to support their growing volumes in the market. Located at Rosslyn in the north of Pretoria, the plant was constructed with an investment of INR 72 crores, or 110mn S. African Rand. The plant will have an initial manufacturing capacity of 3,650 vehicles per annum.

In its present format, the plant will be able to assemble medium to heavy and light commercial vehicles, ranging between 4-50 tonnes from semi-knocked down units. The plant was inaugurated yesterday by the country’s minister of industry and trade, Dr. Rob Davies. Other dignitaries present included MD of Tata International, Noel Tata, CEO and MD of Tata Motors, Carl-Peter Forster, MD of Tata’s S. African division, Raman Dhawan.

According to a statement released by the company, the S. African division of Tata Motors, a JV between Tata Motors and Tata Africa Holding, officially launched their assembly plant in S. Africa’s Gauteng province. The setting up of this plant is a great step in bolstering the company’s presence and operations in the country. They can also expand their capacity further based on requirement. In the beginning, the plant will assemble only two models, the Tata LPT 1518, and the Tata LPT 813, both of which are already popular in the country.

The plant, spread over a 34,500 sq. m. plot awarded with an ISO 9001 accreditation from the country’s Bureau Veritas. The plant was built in a period of more than 18 months. It features built-in flexibilities so that it is able to assemble big numbers as well as different versions in the mixed mode of production.

According to Carl-Peter Forster, having a broad product portfolio, the company is currently at a stage where they can consolidate their international businesses in their chosen markets. The new manufacturing facility in S. Africa is just one such expression of this resolve. They will gradually increase their presence in the international business by matching products and markets.

The auto manufacturer further added that their complete capital outlay, including the civil, plant engineering for the new facility was sourced from and managed by companies and suppliers from South Africa itself. Apart from this, most of the major equipments such as inversion mechanisms, paint booths and HD cranes were sourced from vendors in South Africa. The plant’s whole workforce comes from the country itself.

According to the company training, the development of the local workforce and skill transfer was one of their biggest priorities. The company already has a modern technical training facility that is located in Germiston, Johannesburg, since 2006 for the developing the skills of dealer mechanics from S. Africa as well as from other countries from the same continent.

Tata Motors began exporting to S. Africa since 1998 by exporting commercial vehicles, which was followed by exporting passenger vehicles from 2004. The company currently has more than 20 models of commercial vehicles, and five models of passenger vehicles sold in this market. They also have a total of 85 dealer outlets in S. Africa, and have so far exported more than 32,000 CVs and around 31,000 passenger vehicles.

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