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Swing to EVs can benefit SA remanufacturers

Apr 7, 2022

South African automotive component manufacturers and re-manufacturers, as well as replacement parts makers, can benefit from the current swing towards electrified vehicles which is being driven by environmental regulators in certain European countries and in North America.

This became evident during a recent Automechanika Johannesburg webinar hosted by Absa and fully supported by the RMI organisation where the topic was Aftermarket Remanufacturing: Disruption and Evolution.

Andrew Marsh, Engineering Director of Auto Industry Consulting, who was speaking from the United Kingdom, told delegates he believed it would be several decades before there was a substantial swing to electrified vehicles in Africa and many other countries in the world. This meant that for a long time there will be huge vehicle parcs of vehicles worldwide with petrol or diesel engines still in operation that need to be serviced and maintained.

“Many vehicle and component manufacturers in countries where there is a big push to electrify are already ceasing to make certain components required for the ICE vehicle parcs which will continue to make up a substantial percentage of vehicles in these countries. These EV-focussed manufacturers are switching source countries for these parts and some of the component makers are doing the same,” explained Marsh.

“This means that there should be increased opportunities for South African companies to export locally made or remanufactured components into these markets.”

Earlier in his presentation Marsh had explained how the move to EVs, where cutting weight was imperative, is resulting in exotic materials being used in body construction which will be both difficult and expensive to repair in countries where they sell small volumes. He says he still sees mass market vehicles in Africa and many other countries being made of steel, which make them far less expensive and easier to repair when damaged.

Attie Serfontein, the National Director of the Automotive Remanufacturers’ Association (ARA), said he agreed that there was still plenty of work available for his members to keep the current vehicle parc on the road, but stressed the importance of all those involved in the automotive business in South Africa of the need to keep abreast of global technological developments because change was inevitable.

Serfontein stressed three of the current disruptors in the automotive remanufacturing industry as the importation of sub-standard engines and components, as well as anti-competitive behaviour in the local automotive aftermarket and the rapid changes occurring on the technology front.

“This is where it is important for remanufacturers to promote their RMI membership to provide customers with peace of mind, as some rogue operations had given remanufacturing a bad name,” he added.

Serfontein went as far as to give delegates a much-simplified run through of the various stages of the Industrial Revolution from 1.0 – Steam to 2.0 – Electricity; 3.0 – Computers/microchips; 4.0 – Smart devices; 5.0 – People working alongside robots and Smart machines, Artificial Intelligence, Connectivity, Virtual reality, Autonomous driving, and the like.

The point he made is that in the early years it took centuries and then many decades to move from one stage of the industrial revolution to another, but now it is happening within a generation, so it is increasingly important to stay up to date with the latest technological trends to keep the doors of business open.

Thami Letsoalo, the Automotive Sector Business Development Manager at Absa Relationship Banking – Wholesale, Retail and Franchise, said in closing that there were certainly opportunities out there for South African remanufacturers to increase their business and that it is now time for these companies to be initiative-taking in a rapidly changing world.

He had earlier stressed the importance of remanufacturing as an effective way to re-use raw materials with benefits in both time and cost as well as being environmentally responsible.

For more information on Automechanika Johannesburg 2022, please visit our website



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