BAW Invests R250m to Upgrade Springs Taxi Plant

Photo by Irma Venter
Zhang Wei, Geoffrey Qhena and Lian Zhaoshan

Beijing Automotive Works (BAW) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) will invest R250-million to expand and upgrade its minibus taxi plant, in Springs, Gauteng.

The facility currently assembles the Sasuka 16-seater taxi from semi knocked-down kits, for the South and Southern African market.

The expansion of the facility, announced in Springs on Monday, will see BAW South Africa (SA) assemble the Sasuka from completely knock-down kits (CKD), as from March next year.

Apart from a general upgrade of the plant and facilities, the investment will enable the construction of a new body assembly plant, paint plant, trim plant, a larger component warehouse to support full production and a new parts and accessories warehouse.

Capacity at the plant, on a single shift, will be 500 units a month.
The expansion is expected to add an additional 100 permanent jobs, in positions ranging from production to quality assurance, logistics, after-sales, marketing and management.

The plant is a joint venture between BAW (51%), the IDC (24.5%) and James Chung’s Golden Gate Trust (24.5%).
Speaking at the sod-turning ceremony, BAW SA consultant Tony Godycki, from AG Consulting, said the more complex CKD assembly process would increase local content on the minibus taxi to at least 35%, which would see the Sasuka qualify for duty benefits in terms of exports to countries in Southern Africa.

Local CKD assembly would also lead to duty-free importation of Sasuka kits into South Africa.
Godycki said BAW SA already sourced components such as brake pads, springs and filters locally, and would look to add parts such as glass, tyres, radiators and seats to the list.

IDC CEO Geoffrey Qhena said the IDC supported the opportunity to introduce more competition to the local taxi industry.

The industry is currently dominated by the Toyota Quantum, assembled in Durban.
The BAW assembly facility was established in 2012, with an initial investment of R196-million.

New Products Planned

The Sasuka is available with a 2.7 l petrol engine.
BAW planned to introduce a 2.8 l diesel engine variant next month, noted BAW SA CEO Zhang Wei.
He added that the Sasuka was sold with a 500 000 km service plan as standard, as well as insurance that covered the vehicle and passengers.

Wei said there were BAW taxis operating in South Africa which had notched up more than 500 000 km on the clock.
BAW has become directly involved in customer finance through the formation of its own finance company.
Wei said BAW was investigating the possibility of introducing a panel van, as well as electric minibus to the local market.

China in SA

The Chinese Embassy’s Lian Zhaoshan, from the Economic and Commercial Counsellor’s office, said bilateral trade between South Africa and China reached $9.145-billion in the first three months of 2017, which was a 28.3% increase on the previous year.

To date, he added, around 150 large and medium-sized Chinese businesses had invested in South Africa.





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