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Exporters encouraged to ‘focus on the future’ as e-mobility revs up

Home Transport & Logistics Exports & Imports Exporters encouraged to ‘focus on the future’ as e-mobility revs up

THERE is still a lot to do in Africa, but we can make it happen, Volkswagen passenger cars brand CEO, Thomas Schäfer, told Exporters Eastern Cape’s AGM earlier this month. A guest speaker, Schäfer, is currently a member of the Volkswagen AG board of management and head of the brand group core and is also the former managing director of Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA).

He addressed the Eastern Cape Exporters virtually, speaking on the topic of VW’s acceleration of the vehicle manufacturer’s e-campaign, aimed at exclusively manufacturing e-cars in Europe by 2033.

With VW’s new European e-models, like the ID.7, which will offer ranges of up to 700 km on one charge, the future may be closer than we think. And these vehicles are also becoming more affordable, with VW working on an electric car for under 25 000 Euros (about R500 000), said Schäfer.

“Our mission is to make e-mobility accessible to everyone. What matters now is that we fully leverage Africa’s potential. There’s still a lot to do in Africa to create an open market that is self-sustaining and less dependent on outside resources.”

A firm believer in Africa and South Africa’s potential, Schäfer said industrial courage, political will and a trusting basis of cooperation were needed to move the continent forward.

While VWSA will most likely still be producing combustion engines along with the e-models in ten years’ time in South Africa, according to VWSA’s current managing director, Martina Biene, VW will continue to drive the e-campaign and advocate for policy development on the continent.

Policy environment

National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (Naacam) executive director Renai Moothilal reiterated that the policy environment needed to be developed for e-mobility to take off in South Africa.

“Opportunities for localisation do exist in South Africa. Component companies have been responding to technology changes all the time and have the ability to transition. Once the OEMs make announcements, component companies will respond,” said Moothilal.

Moothilal, who was another guest speaker at the event, said it was “important to get into the space and get in quickly,” since South Africa – and the Eastern Cape – was ideally placed with its access to raw materials, existing manufacturing capabilities and ports.

Exporters Eastern Cape

Giving a brief overview of the activities of Exporters Eastern Cape, the chairman Quintin Levey, said the leadership of the member-based organisation worked on strengthening relationships with key public and private players in the export industry to foster collaboration in the region in the 2022/23 year.

Greater collaboration was cemented by Exporters Eastern Cape through its various industry forums, including the Collaboration Forum (with public sector) and Exporters Development Forum (with participants from the Exporters Development Programme).

Levey also announced the election of new Exporters Eastern Cape committee members as: Michael Kliment (OPM Tooling) and Nyameko Lusu (Standard Bank).

The full 2023/24 committee for Exporters Eastern Cape is: Quintin Levey (KPMG), Deon Joubert (SJM Flex SA), Pravika Chetty (Lumotech), Selwyn Willis (Community Chest), Brenden Adriaanzen (DG Incentives), Greg Billson (Enterprise Development Consultants), Celestin Ndhlovu (Isuzu Motors South Africa), Oyama Sidlabane (Lizwe Fuels), Loudeaux Minnie (LX Events), Lee-Anne Vasi (Nelson Mandela University Business School), Siphokazi Ngombane (NMB Municipality), Neil Barker (OM & Barker), Ronel Marais (Volkswagen Group South Africa), Nyameko Lusu (Standard Bank) and Michael Kliment (OPM Tooling).

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