ZF Lemförder South Africa’s new plant in East London has started production of front and rear axles for its customer, Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA).
MBSA – a member of the Daimler group – is investing R10-billion to gear up for production of the new generation C-Class at its nearby plant, also in East London, while still producing the current C-Class sedan for the local and export markets.
The investment from the German vehicle manufacturer is being used to build a new paint shop, logistics warehouse and body shop, and to upgrade the assembly hall.
As with all other Daimler plants, however, axle assemblies are to be externally supplied by 2020, with ZF nominated as the axle assembly supplier in March last year.
“We are expanding our global footprint by opening our new plant in East London,” says ZF Lemförder car chassis technology division head Dr Peter Holdmann.
“Additionally, we are strengthening the relationship with one of our strategic customers and with the region.”
He says proximity to international customers is of great significance to the ZF Group to ensure a just-in-sequence supply chain.
Following the ‘local-for-local’ principle, ZF plans to consistently expand its global market presence.
A new supplier in the East London Industrial Development Zone, ZF currently employs 200 people.
The ZF plant has a production capacity of up to 150 000 axle sets a year.
Vehicle chassis, including all actuators and axle systems, will continue to play a central role in the safety, comfort and efficiency of vehicles in the future, despite anticipated changes in the drive trains.
In South Africa, ZF is present in five locations, namely Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and East London.
With 460 employees in the domestic market, the company achieved sales of €175-million in 2018.
The investment value of the new plant has not been disclosed.