Local is lekker! Isuzu gets the green light to build next-gen D-Max bakkie in SA

The Isuzu SA plant in Struandale, Port Elizabeth has been home to the locally-built KB bakkie, now known as the D-Max, since the early 2000s. 

In 2017 when General Motors announced it was jumping ship out of SA, Isuzu decided to stay on and continue building vehicles.

On Monday (Nov 11) Isuzu Motors of Japan confirmed that it will be investing R1.2 billion into the next-generation bakkie programme in South Africa, while an additional total local content value of R2.8 billion will be generated through the lifecycle of the programme, the auto maker said.

READ | The dark knight: Isuzu's new D-Max X-Rider Black steps out of the shadows

So why is this a big deal for the automaker if it was already building the previous KB, and now the current D-Max model here?

It means 1000 employee jobs have bee saved, along with 4000 jobs through its dealer network, and many more through its base of 430 suppliers in South Africa.

If South Africa had not been given the contract to build the next-gen bakkie, not only would 1000 jobs be lost, but the automaker would then just be distributing sales, and we would have to import the vehicle, inevitably seeing an increase in its competitive pricing due to its current local production.

Isuzu says this milestone development follows the firm’s take-over last year of the company's light commercial vehicle operations, as well as the balance of shareholding in the trucks business. 

Isuzu D-Max X-Rider black

Image: Quickpic

The automaker says current plans are to grow the company’s annual bakkie production to 29 000 units per annum, said Yoichi Masuda, Senior Executive Officer for Isuzu Motors Limited and Chairman of the Isuzu Motors South Africa Board: "Our decision to invest in the production of the next generation bakkie in South Africa demonstrates our commitment to this market. 

"This is further reinforced by the fact that this operation is the first bakkie and truck manufacturing and distribution operation which is 100% owned Isuzu operation outside of Japan.”

The automaker says South Africa will initially serve as the main market for the next generation bakkies but with growing volumes expected to be generated from the roll-out of its Sub-Saharan Africa growth strategy, which will be geared at further strengthening its position in key markets as well as its overall distribution footprint.

"The next generation bakkie will be locally engineered to meet the requirements of the South African and key Sub-Saharan Africa markets.” said Michael Sacke, CEO and Managing Director of Isuzu Motors South Africa. 

"Our customers have come to know our vehicles for their reliability, durability and flexibility and it is important that we continue to build on these strengths.”

isuzu dmax pe plant

                                                               Image: Quickpic

Isuzu’s biggest markets in Sub-Saharan Africa currently include Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Mauritius, Senegal, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Last year the company’s sales in these markets increased by 17% versus the prior year.

Long-term plans

Masuda emphasised the important role the government’s Automotive Production and Development Programme plays in providing predictability and stability for investors when making long-term business decisions. 

“We fully support the requirements of the extended APDP and are working on various initiatives to ensure that we contribute to the achievement of the South African Automotive Master Plan aspirational targets over the coming years. Furthermore, I would like to acknowledge the instrumental role the South African government has played in enabling us to successfully operate in this market since January 2018."

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, has welcomed the announcement saying it will contribute immensely towards President Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment drive.

"This investment shows confidence in the South African economy’s growth potential and will help to secure more than 1000 direct jobs at the plant.  The South African Automotive Master Plan, developed in partnership between government and industry, provides a good basis for companies to plan and gives policy certainty on which investment decisions can be made," Patel said.

Compiled by Janine Van der Post

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Brought to you by
Voting Booth
Do you think Mercedes will return to form later in the 2022 F1 season after two poor races?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, don't discredit them.
33% - 456 votes
Who cares, F1 is exciting again!
44% - 594 votes
No, it's Ferrari's turn to dominate again.
23% - 314 votes