New wiring harness plant opened in KZN

Metair has officially opened a new manufacturing facility for vehicle harnesses.

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The new 35 000m2 state-of-the-art facility from Metair, the JSE-listed international manufacturer, distributor and retailer of energy-storage solutions and automotive components is located in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal.

According to Metair, the facility is for their subsidiary, Hesto Harnesses. It is one of five capital investment projects by the group, which resulted in a commitment of more than R1.4 billion by Metair to support the expansion and localisation of the new generation Ford and VW pick-ups.

The new facility will produce wiring harnesses for the latest Ford Ranger, VW Amarok (which is built alongside the Ranger at Ford’s Silverton plant) and Isuzu D-Max models. These models will be sold locally and abroad.

The Hesto facility has created over 4 000 employment opportunities in the region and has doubled the company’s head count.

According to a filing by Metair, this investment is part of a commitment made at the South Africa Investment Conference held in 2020. The company says it directly aligns with key objectives of the South African Automotive Master Plan to 2035 to increase localisation, develop skills and create employment in the domestic automotive industry.

Hesto Harnesses, in partnership with Yazaki Corporation, produces wiring harnesses and instrument clusters for delivery to South African based automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) Toyota, Isuzu and Nissan. Ford was recently added to the company’s list of clients.

Speaking at the official opening of the plant, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the investment commitment by both Ford and Metair reflects long-term confidence in South Africa as a key link in the global automotive value chain.

“We need to work together to unlock new business opportunities, transformation and employment creation in South Africa’s component manufacturing landscape, just as we need to promote new investments in technology and skills.

“That is why the localisation rate in the Automotive Production Development Plan (APDP) is targeted at 60% by 2035.

“We will continue to drive increased localisation as the domestic sector moves into electric and other new energy vehicle assembly platforms,” he said.

Ramaphosa said unemployment was one of the greatest challenges in South Africa and it was therefore significant and most welcome that Hesto Harnesses facility would create more than 4 000 employment opportunities, which will translate into a R30 million monthly spend on salaries and wages being injected into the iLembe District.

Hesto Harnesses’ MD, William Hilditch, said Hesto was the largest employer in the area and that it’s proud to play its part in empowering the greater iLembe district community.

Hilditch said government support to both Ford and Isuzu unlocked this opportunity for Hesto to grow its operations, both in KwaDukuza and Tshwane, and to contribute significantly to employment, economic growth, skills development and transformation.

“Our drive to increase localisation across our business has enhanced this impact.

Our country has the resources and skills available to localise more, and we believe that through closer collaboration across the value chain, much more could be achieved on this front,” he said.

Metair CEO Riaz Haffejee said the facility bore testament to the group’s customer commitment and drive to support the sustainability of the automotive sector through enhanced localisation and global skills transfer.

“I am extremely proud of what the team at Hesto has achieved and extend our appreciation to our partners and other stakeholders, specifically Ford and Yazaki, for making this project possible,” he said.

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