The curious specifications of the Plettenberg Bay mayor's car tenders


The Bitou local municipality needs two new executive sedans.

Specifications for the two unnamed vehicles are slightly suspicious. 

The vehicles are to be leased over 36 months, instead of being purchased.

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Government vehicle tenders have been a contentious motoring and public finance issue in South Africa.

The local automotive industry employs many and earns valuable foreign currency, but that does not excuse overspending on government fleet vehicle purchases, with substandard tendering. 

It would appear that the Bitou local municipality (Plettenberg Bay) needs two new executive sedans, for its executive and deputy mayor.

Since Tito Mboweni's announcement that government ministers need to operate below an R800 000 purchasing ceiling for their cars, the expectation has been that all government vehicle purchasing will become more meticulous.

audi a4

We reckon the Mayor's requirements for a FWD drive is a base-spec Audi A4 (QuickPic)

Why two different sets of tech specs?

However, there seems to be a loophole since these two vehicles are not for purchase, but a tender for a leasing period over 36 months.

Perusing the tender documents for the Bitou mayoral fleet leases, things do appear a touch odd. Specifications set technical parameters for any government vehicle purchase, but the fulfilment framework of these new Bitou executive sedan acquisitions have some strange details. 

Both the executive and deputy mayoral vehicles are to be of a four-door sedan configuration, with a 5-star NCAP rating.

The best possible safety rating is inarguably an anchor feature of any vehicle buying consideration decision, but there are many different NCAP organisations. The tender documents don't stipulate whether these sedans should be 5-star Euro, Latin or ASEAN NCAP. 

The next curious requirement is colour.

Most government vehicle tenders demand white, as this hue is proven to support residual vehicle values over time, and in other circumstances would make it easier to sell a white car with advanced mileage. That is the reason that most government bakkies, trucks, vans and sedans you see are finished in white.

Bitou municipality wants its leased mayoral vehicles in two different colours. The deputy gets white, while the executive mayor goes grey. 

We believe the deputy mayor's vehicle can only be a Mercedes-Benz C-Class or a BMW 3 Series (Wheels24 / Janine Van der Post)

More power to the deputy

The cars are also required to have different wheel sizes, with the mayor desiring to roll 225/45 profile tyres, on 17-inch wheels, while his deputy needs 235/55 tyres on larger 18-inch wheels. Run-flat tyres are only listed as a technical requirement for the deputy mayor's new sedan, not the executive mayor's. 

Full-size spare wheels are listed as a requirement, which is entirely sensible considering South Africa's potholed roads, but why can't both vehicles have the same wheel size and tyre requirements? 

Perhaps the strangest of all specification requirements in the tender document relates to power- and drivetrain. 

Often government vehicle tenders will stipulate a minimum engine size and output. But the Bitou municipality tender goes even further, by stating that the executive mayor's sedan should have minimum outputs of 110kW and 250Nm, while being no smaller than 1.4-litres in capacity. 

The deputy mayoral vehicle is expected to have a significantly more powerful engine. Minimum capacity is classified as 2.0-litres, with higher baseline power and torque ratings of 140kW and 350Nm.

Why would the deputy mayor need a more powerful vehicle, with a larger engine, than the mayor? 

Even stranger is its transmission requirement, where mention is made of a 'manumatic' eight-speed gearbox. Virtually all local luxury vehicle brands (Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and VW) offer their own version of the manumatic transmission, but why that would be a specific technical feature if the deputy mayor's tender requirement only states the need for an 'automatic' transmission?

bmw 3 series

We believe the deputy mayor's vehicle can only be a BMW 3 Series or a Mercedes-Benz C-Class (PressClub / BMW SA)

FW, please

The Bitou executive mayor also wishes to use a front-wheel drive luxury sedan, which precludes any BMW or Mercedes-Benz, and puts Audi, Lexus, Volvo and VW in the running.

But why would the executive mayoral vehicle need to be specifically front-wheel drive, while the tender document requires the deputy mayor to have a rear-wheel drive vehicle? Surely both should be either-or? 

These discrepancies in minimum engine output requirements, wheel and tyre sizes, not to mention the two different drive configurations (FWD and RWD), makes the Bitou mayoral tender process look technically sloppy. 

Leasing two technically similar vehicles would reduce the cost complexity and give the municipality greater negotiating power with regards to any transactional discount.

Why they are being tendered to be so technically different in configuration is inexplicable. 

Disclaimer: Wheels24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of contributors/columnists published on Wheels24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24 or Wheels24. 

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