Chinese car maker BAIC expects the first vehicles to roll off its new R11bn South African assembly plant early next year, with most of the vehicles destined for export.

The factory, near the car-export hub of Port Elizabeth, will be the first new car plant in SA in four decades and is expected to build 50,000 vehicles a year by 2022, half its estimated peak output, company officials said on Tuesday. "We expect the first cars from the plant in the second quarter of next year," Sun Tongli, BAIC’s senior manager, told reporters.

The Chinese have a 65% stake in the joint venture, with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) owning the rest.

Construction on the main assembly site is several months behind schedule, mainly due to contractor and labour disputes. The assembly plant includes a paint and body shop, but all parts will be imported. The cars are mainly expected to be exported to neighbouring countries.

"The market is tough here in SA, but they do foresee the regional SADC market, including SA, will be picking up in due course," Kingsley Dell-Robertson of the IDC said.

SA is the continent’s main car maker, with Toyota, BMW, Ford and VW among those with assembly plants. SA’s new vehicle sales rose 6.7% year on year to 49,222 units in August, data from the Department of Trade and Industry showed in September.


Please sign in or register to comment.