Nov 26, 2010
German components firm opens R178m Uitenhage facilityBack
Construction|Africa|Benteler|Benteler Automotive|Components|Volkswagen Group South Africa|VW Group SA|Africa|Asia|Europe|China|India|South Africa|Uitenhage Plant|Automotive|Blank Steel Parts|Building|Dashboard Carrier Panels|Equipment|Local Vehicle Manufacturers|Logistics|Manufacturing|Parts Producer|Product|Steel|David Powels|Hein Van Gerwen
© Reuse this
The operation, churning out dashboard carrier panels, body parts, front and rear bumpers, and chassis parts, will employ 250 people once it reaches full production next year.
The plant supplies the Volkswagen Group South Africa (VW Group SA), which produces the new Polo for the local and export markets, and the Polo Vivo for the local market.
With around 40% space still available for future expansion, Benteler boss Hubertus Benteler says that the 130-year-old company, a fourth-generation family-owned business, will also seek to secure work from other local vehicle manufacturers, a process which will take shape over the next 2,5 to 3 years.
He adds that the new plant is number 68 for the group, with number 69 and 70 already under construction in India and China.
The Uitenhage plant saw the introduction of a country-first hot-forming line, where blank steel parts, such as the A-pillar on a car, are shaped while heated to 900 ˚C.
Benteler Automotive CEO Hein van Gerwen says that body parts are traditionally welded together, which adds weight to the vehicle.
“So, Benteler invented hot-forming. If you shape a blank while it is still hot, there is no springback.” (‘Springback’ refers to the tendency of material to partially return to its original shape when cold-worked, because of the elastic recovery of the material.)
In the end, this means that these parts are stronger, lighter and dimensionally more accurate.
Benteler says that the South African factory is unique in that the decision to invest was made in April 2009, when the recession had well and truly bared its teeth and Benteler had lost 30% of the sales it had forecast for the year.
However, he emphasises that the company believed in its South African investment on the back of strong government support for the automotive industry, a vibrant Volkswagen brand, and a strong localisation programme.
He notes, for example, that importing parts from Asia to South Africa, building a car here, and then exporting that car to Europe mean a part can spend six months on the ocean.
“Benteler is key to VW Group SA’s business strategy to increase the local content on the new Polo and the Polo Vivo to in excess of 70%,” adds VW Group SA MD David Powels.
Benteler, together with other parts manufacturers – Faurecia, Grupo Antolin, Rehau and Flex Tech – has invested more than R700-million and created more than 600 jobs in the logistics park in the past 12 months, he says.
“Importantly, this investment enables VW Group SA to manufacture in excess of 120 000 vehicles a year for both the export and domestic markets. It is exactly this level of investment that helps provide an original- equipment manufacturer (or car manufacturer), with a hedge against the threat of imports to the South African automotive manufacturing industry,” says Powels.
“Four years ago, VW Group SA commenced a R5-billion investment programme in new plant, new technologies, new product and the required people skills development. One of the fundamental pillars of this ambitious investment programme was to take local content levels from below 40% to in excess of 70%. Together with Benteler and our other suppliers, we have achieved this.”
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Components News
Multinational steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal South Africa supplies around 170 to 180 kiloton of flat steel products to the country’s vehicle manufacturers. “This is as part of our strategy to continue our good relationship with the automotive industry,” says...
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
This Week's Magazine
JSE-listed real estate investment trust (REIT) Rebosis Property Fund achieved a distribution growth of 8.1% to 99.45c per linked unit in the financial year ended August 31, despite volatile market conditions.
A low-cost, inflatable incubator won this year’s international James Dyson design award, which aims to encourage and inspire the next generation of design engineers.
The World Bank released its ‘Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency’ report last month and ranked South Africa 43 out of 189 global economies for its ease of doing business, with Singapore topping the rankings.
Air Products South Africa officially launched its R300-million Eastern Cape air- separation unit (ASU), at its new manufacturing facility in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), earlier this month. It is the second facility that Air Products launched in South...
BMW South Africa (SA) has signed a power purchasing agreement with energy company Bio2Watt. The offtake partnership will bring renewable energy to the carmaker’s Rosslyn plant, north of Pretoria.