Maverick Citizen

MANUFACTURING BOOST

Upbeat Stellantis to start work on R3bn plant in Nelson Mandela Bay within weeks

Upbeat Stellantis to start work on R3bn plant in Nelson Mandela Bay within weeks
From left: Coega Development Corporation CEO Themba Koza, Stellantis MD Mike Whitfield, Des Fenner of Stellantis and senior automotive specialist at the Industrial Development Corporation Kobus Sauer. (Photograph: Supplied)

Automotive manufacturer Stellantis will soon break ground at its R3bn manufacturing plant in Nelson Mandela Bay. The company has praised the speed at which the South African government moved to make the deal happen.

Automotive manufacturing giant Stellantis has announced a R3-billion investment in a new plant in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Stellantis’s managing director, Mike Whitfield, said the project underlined the importance the company placed on Nelson Mandela Bay as an automotive manufacturing hub and a gateway to build vehicles for export into the rest of Africa and the Middle East.

Whitfield was speaking at the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s first manufacturing showcase.

The plant is part of Stellantis’s “Dare Forward 2030” strategy to produce a million units a year, with 70% localisation, and achieve 22% market share in the Middle East and Africa by 2030, in tandem with the existing Stellantis manufacturing operations in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt in North Africa.

Stellantis brands include Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Maserati, Opel and Peugeot.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Stellantis, one of the world’s biggest car companies, to set up manufacturing plant in SA

Construction of the plant is scheduled to start shortly. Whitfield said the  Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) would be a 49% shareholder. The 32.5-hectare site for the new factory was provided by the Coega Development Corporation (CDC).

The CDC confirmed that it had completed the removal and relocation of all flora and fauna at the site in terms of an environmental impact assessment report.

Peugeot Landtrek 1-tonne bakkies will be the first vehicles produced at the new factory.

Whitfield said the plant would directly employ 1,000 people and have an initial production target of 50,000 vehicles a year, which would be scaleable to 90,000 a year, the majority for export.

“But this plant will be so much more than a physical building producing vehicles and is a testament to the enabling environment that the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, the Industrial Development Corporation and the Coega Development Corporation have created.

“Investment in the automotive industry is a long-term process and there can be no investment of any nature without a legislative environment that ensures the playing fields are levelled, the interests of investors are protected and a roadmap that guides all stakeholders,” he said.

Whitfield said they were weeks away from breaking ground at the new site and that this was less than a year from the time the final agreement was concluded with the government and its agencies.

He said this willingness to work with business and the fact that Nelson Mandela Bay had two ports were major attractions to investing in the city. 

“We will involve as many local people as possible,” he said.

Kobus Sauer from the IDC said, “We see [the motor manufacturing industry] thriving in South Africa. South Africans are very resilient.”  

Themba Koza, the acting CEO of the CDC, said they hoped to see more black suppliers enter the automotive manufacturing space. He said the Stellantis project was running on tight deadlines and many role-players were making it happen. 

“We have a commitment to deliver,” he said. 

He said the CDC’s next big investment would be in the energy sector. Hive Energy confirmed on Friday that it would build a R105-billion green ammonia plant in the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

This will be one of the world’s largest green ammonia plants, producing more than 1,000,000 tonnes a year for export to Asia and Europe when the first phase comes online in 2029.

The plant will have a dedicated renewable energy power supply of 3,700MW generated by wind and solar energy — representing the largest clusters of photovoltaic farms and wind assets under single ownership in Africa.

“This will be a game-changer,” Koza said.

‘A boom waiting to happen’

The CEO of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, Denise van Huyssteen, said the city had not seen action like this in a long time. 

Des Fenner, who heads the Nelson Mandela Bay project for Stellantis in South Africa, said many small component manufacturers had contacted them and they hoped to create opportunities for more local suppliers. 

“I keep telling everyone that there is a boom waiting to happen,” the metro’s executive mayor, Gary van Niekerk, said.

The president of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, Loyiso Dotwana, said Transnet had shown a lot of interest in collaborating with the private sector. 

“We have a metro here with so much potential,” he said at the chamber’s annual general meeting last week.

“We have two world-class ports and one of them is a deep-sea port. We have wind and solar energy and a highly skilled workforce. We believe that we can harness those for the benefit of our city.”

The managing director of Volkswagen Africa, Martina Biene, speaking at the same event, said that although the company had faced multiple crises, it had been in the city for 73 years and would be there for at least the next 73 years.

“We are not easy to remove or to be shaken up,” she said.

Biene said it was essential that the energy crisis was addressed and that businesses received guarantees about the energy provision from Eskom.

“We are happy that we haven’t had any load shedding for more than 60 days now, but nobody guarantees anything for us. It doesn’t make us very competitive.”

Dotwana said they were working with the metro and through a memorandum of understanding had offered their technical skills to assist with unscheduled power outages.

“We are seeing a lot of results,” he said. DM

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  • Rae Earl says:

    Amazing! Big corporations keen to invest in SA and create thousands of jobs. Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema on the other hand want to nationalise everything, remove the constitution, and revert parliament to what it was in the apartheid era. And they get electoral votes???

  • Arthur Lilford says:

    Always wonder what the incentive was to get “speed at which the South African government moved to make the deal happen. get the Gov to move fast”

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Seems to me the businesses are largely assembly rather than pure manufacturing.

    • Andrew Mckenzie says:

      Possibly – then be just like other brands. They may draw components made in the local market. Whatever; employment on a decent scale will be available.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    Brave, these guys. So much uncertainty at the moment. I wish them and all those they employ, both directly and indirectly, all the best. Hopefully our GNU works out well and we can get more of this type of investment in. Also hope they have planned for our power challenges.

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