President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Nissan’s global headquarters and the company’s Oppama Plant in Japan on Wednesday.
The visit follows Nissan Group of Africa’s 10th April announcement of continued investment and deepening of the relationship between Nissan and South Africa.
The Presidency had posted an image on social media of Ramaphosa test driving the new Nissan Leaf semi autonomous drive-assist model at the Oppama Plant in Kanagawa, Japan.
Ramaphosa is in Yokohama, Japan where he is participating in the TICAD VII Summit hosted under the theme of “Advancing Africa’s Development through Technology, Innovation and People”.
According to Nissan SA, the new Leaf will arrive here locally in 2020.
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Nissan South Africa has strong support from the government. Earlier in April, the President officiated at the launch event of the R3 billion investment by the automaker to build the new 2020 Navara model at its Rosslyn Plant in Pretoria for the Africa and Middle East markets.
Managing director for Nissan South Africa, Shinkichi Izumi said: "Nissan’s R3bn investment to locally produce the new Nissan Navara is a hallmark to providing sustainable employment, equity and growth within South Africa to deepen the bilateral economic cooperation and investment with the government.”
"Nissan has long been a close partner of South Africa,” Ramaphosa said. "Its history in our country stretches back to the 1960s and continues to this day, most notably with the company’s recent R3 billion investment in the production of a new Navara model."
Nissan sees South Africa as a key strategic partner and entrance to the continent thanks to the country’s vigorous financial services sector, a leading manufacturing base that’s able to meet the needs of the continent, favourable markets in Africa and globally through various free trade agreements.South African automotive value proposition
A recent study by the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers revealed that Japanese manufacturers with operations in South Africa produce more than 50 percent of all vehicles in Africa.
Nissan’s growth strategy for Africa aims to position the company among the top three car brands by 2020, as well as a leading manufacturer and exporter of vehicles to Africa. South Africa accounts for 15%of Nissan’s global production volume.
Production of the Navara in South Africa will establish Rosslyn as a light commercial vehicle hub, providing key support to Nissan’s wider activities within the continent and beyond.
The new ¥4.16 million ($38 000) Leaf e+ is about the same size as the model on sale but gets more power and cruise range. The best-selling electric car competes against Tesla models and General Motors' Bolt.
The Leaf e+ gets faster acceleration and has more torque than the older model and offers 40% more range at 458km per charge, as measured under Japanese regulations, compared with the old model's 322km.
A chance to succees
It has been on sale in Japan since early 2019, and has also been rolled out in the U.S. in spring 2019, and in Europe by mid-2019, Nissan said in a statement.
Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci said the new model was offering customers more power and range, noting that it was "now more convenient and appealing than ever."
More than 380 000 Nissan Leaf vehicles have been sold globally since its 2010 debut, a tiny fraction of the overall auto market. But many nations such as China are bullish about electric vehicle technology as it allows newcomers in the industry a big chance to succeed.
It is also an ecological technology and can be greatly boosted by government policies.