Automotive SMEs to get support from CSIR and AIDC in new MoU

  • The AIDC and CSIR are hoping to strengthen the global competitiveness of the local automotive sector in a recently signed memorandum of understanding
  • The recently signed MoU puts an emphasis on supporting electric vehicles, SMEs and smart factory technologies.
  • AIDC has been making moves locally including the recent opening of a facility that incubates SMEs and produces parts for Ford.

There has been a lot of movement in the local automotive manufacturing space of late. Last year Tshwane became the site of an automotive special economic zone where auto parts will be made. This week President Cyril Ramaphosa called for more electric vehicles to be made in South Africa and for automakers to make use of support mechanisms made available by government.

Now, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), with the intent of strengthen the global competitiveness of the local automotive sector.

This will be accomplished through multiple avenues but special mention is made of smart factories. Here the AIDC and CSIR hope to introduce plant simulation, modelling and optimisation to factories. This will be accomplished through support initiatives that are also looking to loop in SMEs.

“The partnership will also delve into cutting-edge concepts such as plant simulation, modelling and optimisation, as well as equipment localisation and industry support initiatives. By harnessing smart factory technologies, automotive manufacturers will gain the ability to enhance efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness, driving growth and innovation, reads a statement from the CSIR.

One of the goals of this MoU is to make the likes of EVs more viable locally. This includes the localisation of charging stations and retrofitting public transport vehicles with electric engines. Sustainability is a big talking point the world over and automakers need to start taking the emissions of their products into account.

As the 12th biggest emitter of carbon pollution per a Reuters report from June, addressing emissions is of vital importance for the South African economy and local businesses, especially in traditionally carbon intensive sectors such as the motoring industry.

The pair have also said they will explore partnerships for electric scooter and three-wheeler applications. No much detail was provided here, but given the boom in home deliveries and ecommerce of late, electric vehicles could help cut down on the emissions retailers are racking up. Just last month FedEx deployed electric vehicles for local deliveries. While there are only 10 of these vehicles at present, the goal is to convert 100 percent of the FedEx fleet to electric vehicles by 2030.

“Our partnership with the CSIR is a crucial step towards driving growth and innovation in the local automotive industry. By embracing smart factory technologies and focusing on skills development, we will enhance efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness. We are committed to propelling the industry to new heights of sustainability and global recognition,” chief executive officer at AIDC, Andile Africa said in a statement.

At the end of May the AIDC opened the Batyi Automotive Component Supply in Pretoria North. The facility was developed in collaboration with the Ford Motor Company where suppliers are trained at an incubation centre. The facility also forms part of an agreement with Motherson for spray painting and component assembly. Batyi Automotive Component Supply also supply three types of grills for Ford.

“The Incubation programme is designed to groom and prepare Black industrialists to become independent suppliers in the automotive value chain, which operates on a global scale,” Africa said in May.

The local automotive manufacturing sector is clearly a buzz at the moment, we just hope to see fruit springing from these investments and not controversies.


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