New city buses The Johannesburg Metropolitan Bus Services (Metrobus) announced the launch of 38 new Mercedes-Benz buses as part of its refleeting programme.
The launch, held at Metrobus Milpark depot, marked the beginning of the refleeting programme geared at replacing the ageing Metrobus fleet.
The 38 single-deck buses include 30 normal city commuter buses, six buses, each fitted with a hydraulic chair lift for easy access for people in wheelchairs, and two luxury coaches. The luxury coaches have many features, including executive reclining seats, air conditioning, PA systems and luggage compartments. The luxury coaches are for private hire for conventions, conferences, events, tours and other activities.
The aim of the refleeting programme is to have a new fleet with an average age of less than seven years by 2010, says Metrobus MD Bheki Shongwe.
Metrobus has a total of 495 buses, including the new buses.
DaimlerChrysler buses executive vice-president Wolfgang Diez says that 2010 is being used as a milestone to ensure that the transport system is effi-cient.
“Our customer Metro Bus is one of the largest orders for DaimlerChrysler South Africa. There is great signifi- cance in this market and its future, especially in respect of the upcoming years and the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa,” says Diez. The vision of Metro Bus is to be the world-class African bus service in the greater city of Johannesburg.
VWSA skills drive VWSA will invest more than R400-million in training and skills development in the run-up to 2010 in a project called People of the Future. The investment will tackle the needs of technical skills and job creation in the motor and allied industries in South Africa, says MD Andreas Tostmann.
“Our investment covers a range of initiatives that will be to the benefit of approximately 6 500 employees, 45 000 people in the national Volks-wagen and Audi dealer networks and over 1 000 people in the local community,” says Tostmann. He describes the lack of skills in the industry as a major concern to the motor industry, which contribu- tes 7,6% of the country’s gross domestic product, second only to the mining industry.
Vehicle imports on the increase Imported vehicles account for 50% of new passenger-vehicle sales in South Africa and are gaining market share, says McCarthy Limited CEO Brand Pretorius.
Pretorius addressed delegates at the Auto Africa Expo in October and said that the South African motor industry is thriving in terms of volume growth.
He added that the record new vehicle sales of 617 450 units in 2005 was 28,5% higher than in 2004 and more than double the 295 775 units sold in 1999.
He said that the year-to-date total for 2006 was already up 15,8% compared with figures for the same period last year and it was expected that the total market could exceed 700 000 units this year. Last year, South Africa had the best-performing newvehicle market in terms of growth worldwide.
The total domestic production forecast for 2006 was 621 900 units.South Africa’s share of global production has reached 0,79%, an increase on the 0,61% share recorded in 2000. Automotive exports increased from 15 700 units in 1995 to 140 000 last year, and South African manu-facturers are now exporting to 52 countries, 24 of which are outside Africa. On the automotive component side, exports also increased significantly and were expected to exceed R20-million in 2006.
Pretorius remarks that vehicle manufacturers were continuing to make big investments locally, increasing from R2,2-billion in 2004 to R3,6-million in 2005 and a projected R8,4-billion in 2006.
These trends give hope to the ambitious goal of local auto makers to produce a million cars annually by 2010.
“The industry increased its contribution to GDP to 7,64% in 2005, while the value of auto- motive exports currently exceeds that of gold exports. It has attracted massive foreign direct investment since 2000 with an aggregate capital expenditure in local manufacturing amounting to more than R20-bil- lion. The industry is also the second-largest employer in the industrial sector, employing more than 306 000 people,” he said.
Cadillac brand launched in South Africa Cadillac opened another chapter in its global expansion in October, last year, when it announced that the iconic luxury brand will be available in South Africa early this year.
Three Cadillac models will be sold in South Africa, the BLS mid-size sedan, the SRX crossover SUV, and the STS full-size sedan, which all embody Cadillac’s distinctive bold design, technology and performance.
“The portfolio we are offering in South Africa has been developed for luxury international markets,” said director of international marketing and brand development for Cadillac James Vurpillat.
South Africa is one of the fastestgrowing automobile markets in the world, and with our distinct portfolio of luxury vehicles, Cadillac is ready to further its expansion on the African continent.
Through the first half of 2006, Cadillac sales outside the US grew 13% compared with sales one year ago. In China, where the brand was introduced only two years ago, sales were up 93% in the same period.
In Europe, the launch of the Cadillac BLS helped sales in the first half grow by 30%. GM vicepresident of global sales, service and marketing John Middlebrook added, “Cadillac’s global expansion is on track and step by step will continue to grow the Cadillac brand around the world.” In conjunction with the launch of the Cadillac brand, GM will begin a direct distribution network in South Africa. The network of retailers will open in major cities, such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.