Trends, direction and opportunities at Automechanika JHB CEO event

The Automechanika Johannesburg CEO Breakfast event on 25 January in Centurion witnessed three power-packed presentations delivered by brains trust- league experts in their respective fields, providing thought-provoking facts and indicating some real direction and opportunity for the automotive sector in South Africa.

Paul-Roux de Kock, Chief Analytics Officer at market intelligence , data and analytics  group Lightstone highlighted the dynamics of population movement among the various regions in South Africa which is an on-going phenomenon influencing planning and formulation of measures to provide products and services where population centres thrive.

De Kock stressed that affordability has emerged as a key factor in consumer behaviour and the automotive sector is vulnerable to this. Motor manufacturers who have not yet done so, should be encouraged to establish a manufacturing presence in South Africa within a policy framework aimed at increasing the cost-effectiveness and ultimately the affordability of vehicles in the country.

Auto Sector Lead for Southern Africa at audit firm KPMG Dex Machida presented the findings of the firm’s recently-published Global Automotive Executive Survey which, inter alia, indicated a definite trend towards a growing market for electric vehicles (EV’s) and highlighted the need for proper planning and implementation of initiatives to appropriately serve market needs.

In the South African context, it was incumbent on the SA motor industry to attach high priority to the export of vehicles in order to ensure the sustainability of the local manufacturing industry as local volumes were too low to achieve this.

An important pointer that also stood out in the survey is consumer experience and the role that digital technology can play in the enhancement thereof if applied correctly. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a growing phenomenon and would become increasingly more relevant and important in this regard. There is a definite need by consumers for an enhanced customer experience to underpin sound customer relationships which will be ignored at its peril by the motor industry at large. Machida stressed that the development of sound customer relationships is an imperative for successful business.

Craig Parker, Research Director: Africa at international consulting firm Frost & Sullivan further highlighted the trend towards alternative energy sources for vehicles. A great deal of research and development had already taken place in the field of EV’s and green hydrogen fuel cell-based propulsion systems. He reported that the practical application of fuel cell technology in vehicles is currently gaining momentum, notably in Japan.

Insofar as EV’s are concerned, the battery is the heart of the system and South Africa is in the fortunate position that it has viable natural resources required for battery manufacturing, which makes the country a viable proposition for the local production of batteries and EV’s.

Parker further alluded to the exciting opportunities that were inherent in second life applications for batteries and the potential for South Africa to become a centre of global relevance in this respect, where special economic zones (SEZ) could play a vital part in rendering a recycling industry viable and sustainable on an international scale.

The CEO breakfast garnered significant attendance, attracting senior executives from various sectors, both in the private industry and government. Notable attendees included representatives from Absa Bank, Autoforum, Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), Bodyshop News Africa, City of Joburg, CVLC Communication, Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, Drone Council South Africa, Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, Gauteng Fleet and Logistics, Gauteng Growth & Development Agency, Gauteng Tourism, German Embassy, iFundi, KZN Economic Development, Lightstone, Liqui Moly SA, Mabule International, Mahle Aftermarket South Africa, Masterdrive, Mitsubishi Motors South Africa, Motor Industry Bargaining Council (MIBCO), Motor Matter, Motus Aftermarket Parts, Naamsa, National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, NRCS, Panthera Media, RAC Masterdrive, Reign Supreme Holdings, RMI - ARA & SAVABA, RMI/MIWA, Robert Bosch (Pty) Ltd, SA-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Savrala, Sincpoint, SKF South Africa, Skinny SBU Super Cars, Standard Bank, Stellantis, Supreme Spring, TecAlliance South Africa, TEDA, TEPA and SAPRA @ (RMI), The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport South Africa, Treasury, Trenstar, Tshwane Economic Development Agency, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Yassir Technologies. The event served as a platform for meaningful discussions and networking opportunities among key industry players and government stakeholders.

Automechanika Johannesburg is proud to remain at the forefront of innovative thinking and, through this insightful event, live out its slogan of “Real Business: No Fluff! 

The 2024 edition of Automechanika will take place between the 19-21 November at the JHB Expo Centre,  and is gearing to once again connect suppliers and manufacturers to key buyers. Automechanika is the  platform to generate sales leads, launch new products and solutions and network with industry peers.