Posted: April 25, 2023
His Excellency, the Ambassador of Germany in SA, Mr Andreas Peschke.
The Executives of Daimler Truck AG International.
The Board of Directors for Daimler Truck South Africa.
The Executives of Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
Head of South Africa VDA, German Association of Automotive Industry.
The CEO of NAAMSA, Mr Mike Mabasa.
The CEO of African Association of Automotive Manufacturing, Mr David Coffey.
The CEO of SA German Chamber, Mr Matthias Boddenberg.
The CEO of Road Freight Association, Mr Gavin Kelly.
My Departmental team led by Mr Mkhululi Mlota.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is with great excitement that we are here today to witness the grand opening of the Daimler Truck SA (Pty) Head-Quarters Campus facility, through this colourful inauguration in Centurion.
As Daimler Truck SA, you are one of the oldest South African company that has contributed so much in our economy through your distinguished and recognizable fleets of trucks which are a household brand in South Africa.
Daimler Truck company started in South Africa approximately 60 years ago, your success has been based on leading brands such as Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Buses, and FUSO Trucks. This also includes supporting parts and services for Freightliner and Western Star Trucks.
One of the main obsessions to us as South African government, especially in the post-COVID environment and the post-unrest of 2021, is employment and job creation.
The current Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) driven by government is placing more emphasis on stimulating the economy in order to create more jobs. I am excited that DTSA employs around 800 people, of which, 170 are at the new head-office employees. I am told that the rest of the workforce is at the assembly plant in East London. Again, during the construction phase of the HQ Centurion Campus, 86 jobs were created.
- As government we are essentially here today to say thank you to Daimler Truck South Africa for your loyalty and commitment. I took liberty to look at what are you doing as a contribution to the country beyond selling for profit. The company is doing well in the following areas:
- Skills development: a dedicated Training Centre to upskill the employees in a range of technical areas of business.
- Socially empowering their trucking partners, through ongoing employee engagement forums and the nurturing of local communities through the trucking and wellness programme.
- Support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs); through building partnerships in a sustainable manner creating independent businesses thus attributing to economic sustainability.
I am told that you are working on improving your B-BBEE status which is standing at level 5. As Deputy Minister responsible for, amongst other Agencies, the B-BBEE Commission I will encourage this move by the company. The country is lagging behind in this regard from large enterprises to create a truly inclusive economy.
As part of the African agenda, you have an operational presence in the SADC market. The company has a largest dealership networks with a total of 40 authorised outlets. This represents a remarkable market share. For us as government, this appetite to grow in the African market is in line with the goals of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that we are building as a continental free market of $3.4 trillion GDP and 1.3 billion people. The growing investment appetite into the continent by its own enterprises and multinational companies is a welcome attitude to this awaking giant of Continent – Africa.
In 2022, DTSA moved from the MBSA Zwartkop campus into its own, new sales and marketing premises in Centurion. The decision to construct a new campus was to create a Commercial Vehicle HUB, a one-stop shop for all commercial transactions, including retail services through Sandown Motor Holdings, and financial services through Daimler Truck Financial Services
At the 4th South African Investment Conference in 2022, as a company, you pledged a total of R190 million towards infrastructure development of the New Centurion Campus; an amount that has been splitted between (R170 million) and production improvements in the East London Plant (R20 million). This new and state of the art campus will embrace energy efficiency objectives, with fully-fledged solar power systems.
To us as government, this investment serves as a stamp of approval and the confidence that the company still has, to South Africa and to the continent as a whole. Indeed, South Africa is open for business.
As South Africa, like the rest of the World, we are at a time where the Auto industry is undergoing a radical revolution. The transition away from internal combustion engines (ICE) vehicles to Electric Vehicles (EV) calls for all OEMs to work with government, especially my Department so that we break the glass ceiling in South Africa first, for the continent. I understand that there has been complains that we are moving slow as the Department in terms of the New Electric Vehicle Policy development.
Our approach of working with the industry association like SAAMSA on this policy framework will continue to the end. We all feel the pressure to move with speed so that we are not overtaken by other markets still at their foundation phase, like us. We all agree that the maturity of our South African automotive sector locates it at a vantage point to be part of the leaders in EV’s, including component manufacturers. We therefore appeal for partnership and cooperation as we increase our speed to finalise strategic policy areas.
We are informed that as Daimler Truck South Africa, you have indicated that the new Fuso e-canter’s all electric commercial vehicle will be undergoing a homologation process in South Africa. The first e-Canters are scheduled to arrive in South Africa in the middle of this year – 2023. This is a welcomed decision.
As I indicated, we are here as government of South Africa to thank you as Daimler and commit that we will do whatever we can, to ease your way to do business in South Africa. I think your unsurpassed record in the South African economy speaks volumes in terms of the conducive environment to do business.
We wish the company all the best!