Isuzu prepares to halt local production

25 March 2020 - 09:37 By Brenwin Naidu
Isuzu South Africa will be suspending local production due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Isuzu South Africa will be suspending local production due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Image: Supplied

Isuzu is the latest manufacturer to announce its compliance with the imminent national lockdown declared by president Cyril Ramaphosa, pausing its local production activities.

“The most important action that we need to take at this time is to ensure the safety of our employees and our stakeholders,” said Denise van Huyssteen, corporate affairs, business strategy and legal executive at Isuzu Motors South Africa.

In a statement to TimesLIVE Motoring, she said an orderly shutdown of its Port Elizabeth manufacturing operations had started, poised for completion by the time the countrywide measure takes effect at midnight on March 26.

“While we are fully aware that the closure of our operations will have a direct economic impact on our business, the businesses of our suppliers and dealers and also upon our employees, these measures are necessary to contain the spread of Covid-19.”

At the beginning of 2019, the firm consolidated truck and pick-up production facilities under one roof at its Struandale headquarters. In addition to medium and heavy commercial vehicles, the plant builds the D-Max pick-up and supplies knocked-down kits for assembly at a facility in Kenya.

Meanwhile, the MU-X sport-utility vehicle, its other local offering, is sourced from Thailand. Last year senior vice-president of technical operations, Dominic Rimmer, confirmed that developments were under way to begin producing the new, seventh-generation D-Max in 2021, after a R1.2bn investment.

“We will continue to offer support to our customers who are classified as providing essential services to South Africa”.

Acknowledging the portended economic consequences, Van Huyssteen explained plans would be afoot to mitigate affects on the business, through ongoing engagement with the company's internal and external stakeholders.

“There is no doubt that the next few weeks and months will be a difficult time for our economy and for every single South African. As Isuzu Motors South Africa, we stand in solidarity with our government, our employees, dealers, suppliers, customers and our broader community."