Imports of used vehicles into many countries in Africa are "a big obstacle to new vehicle sales growth", according to Andrew Kirby, chairman of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) and president and CEO of Toyota SA Motors, who said he was confident the local motor industry would overcome its major challenges and that the industry would grow substantially into the future.

According to bizcommunity.com, Kirby addressed delegates at the recent NAAMSA Automotive Conference.

Kirby said the South African motor industry was undergoing its biggest disruption since the introduction of the Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP) in 1995, when the country exported only 11,000 vehicles and imported 20,000, to the situation today where it was projected production this year would reach 609,000 vehicles with 340,000 units exported.

"Increasing exports into other African countries is a vital part of growing production volumes," said Kirby. "Increasing motorisation on the continent through a growing middle class is a key which could lead to the African market expanding from the current 1.2 m new cars and commercial vehicles to 2m vehicles in five to ten years."However, a big obstacle to new vehicle sales growth is that many countries in Africa permit the importation of thousands of used vehicles. Fortunately, there are moves to curb this trend in the interests of growing the motor industry in several African countries."

Kirby also wants the introduction of cleaner fuels, which will permit the importation of cleaner burning and more fuel-efficient engines. Most African countries still permit fuels to be sold which only meet requirements for Euro 2 or 3, at a time when many countries in Europe already require engines to meet Euro 5 or 6 standards.

Paved roads are another aspect of infrastructure that requires urgent attention when growing the vehicle market in SA, according to Kirby. He explained that only 21% of roads in SA are paved, amounting to 154,000km with a further 140,000km of roads in the planning stage but few new roads being built.

He added that ports and the rail network are other infrastructure aspects requiring attention if the SA motor industry was to become globally competitive and producing 1m or more vehicles a year.

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