Nissan South Africa (Nissan SA) will know by the end of the year what its production allocation of its Japanese parent company’s new pick-up range, set to replace the Hardbody and Navara, will be, says Nissan SA MD Mike Whitfield.
“It is not an issue whether we will build the new range, but how many [units] we will build. We are in the final stages of negotiations.”
Local production of the new model is set to start in 2014.
Whitfield says Nissan SA aims to localise more than 70% of the parts on the new pick-up, up from 50% on the current Hardbody range being assembled at the company’s Rosslyn plant.
Africa is set to remain a pivotal export destination for Nissan SA as the new range comes to market, especially as it is lobbying its parent company to expand production closer to 100 000 units a year, up from last year’s 54 000 units.
“We want to ultimately take the plant to two shifts,” says Whitfield. “We are putting a production plan together to achieve this.”
A second shift means, however, that Nissan SA will require around 800 new employees.
Whitfield says the Gauteng government is assisting it in setting up a facility to train this number of people, which it would need “to start recruiting soon”.
He adds that there are four factors which will influence Nissan Japan’s decision to send higher volumes South Africa’s way – or not.
These are cost competitiveness, especially in terms of components, flexi- bility of the labour force, lower logistics costs and “great breadth and depth” of parts localisation.