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SA must learn from Australian implosion

South Africa’s automotive manufacturing industry believes it must learn from the dramatic collapse of the Australian auto sector.

National Association of Automotive Components and Allied Manufacturers of South Africa (NAACAM) executive director, Robert Houdet says the Australian industry’s collapse, which could trigger the loss of over 30 000 jobs would provide valuable insight for South African auto companies. Houdet says learning from the Australian and EU crisis will be unpacked to industry at South African Automotive Week, by global manufacturing doyen and advisor to Australia’s shattered automotive industry, Goran Roos, whom Houdet says is “arguably the most capable of sharing these lessons.”

Roos will be a keynote speaker at the 2-day conference, which forms part of the South African Automotive Week Tradeshow at Gallagher Convention Centre on October 14 and 15. “There’s much learning that the South African industry has to contemplate and implement to ensure the sustainability of our own industry,’’ Houdet says.

The shock announcements, within months of each other, confirming the closures of Ford, GM Holden and Toyota in Australia by 2017, is forcing manufacturers to re-invent themselves in order to stave off mass job losses, and is one of the most talked about developments in recent manufacturing history.

“The Australian scenario and the EU crisis which has virtually overnight decimated component manufacturers’ traditional markets, hold telling messages and learnings for African manufacturers, relating to competitiveness, input costs, strategic positioning and the importance of diversification,” says Houdet.

Economic modelling by the Productivity Commission of Australia has predicted that up to 39,000 jobs, mostly in Victoria and South Australia would be lost after the end of production by Ford, GM Holden and Toyota in the period 2016-17. This estimate comprises 11,120 direct jobs being lost at the car manufacturers, plus another 28,100 jobs in the car component supply chain.