Audi

You find them in all walks of life, but I think the number is decreasing. What I am talking about are those people still prepared to go the extra mile. I am sure you all know somebody with this praiseworthy trait.

One of these quietly spoken, unsung heroes is Dr. Norman Lamprecht, executive manager of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) as well as the Automotive Industry Export Council (AIEC). What he has been doing for the past 11 years is compiling the annual Automotive Export Manual.

This is undoubtedly a labour of love as there are evidently no major financial rewards. Speaking at the media briefing around the 11th edition of his “bible,” Lamprecht told us that it takes him about six months – often working through the night – and at least 1 000 hours of dedicated work to produce. It has also grown in size and complexity over the years as he keeps adding more and more useful information.

This year’s annual runs to 100 pages is packed with words, tables and diagrams. The print run is about 20 000 copies with 250 000 hits a year on the digital version of the annual, which is available on the AIEC website (www.aiec.co.za).

Norman used his involvement in the mammoth task of compiling this annual as the thesis for his doctorate a few years ago.

What is scary is the fact that this very highly rated and much sought-after source of information on South African automotive exports and imports is recognised by bodies such as the Department of Trade and Industry, which is a sponsor of the project, but one wonders who will take over responsibility for producing the annual when Lamprecht cries “enough”? He is very much a “one man band” doing it as part of his long-running commitment to the local motor industry, with a special focus on the growing export markets since 1995.

Now let’s get back to the publication itself.

There are many high points such as the fact that South Africa now exports automotive products – built-up vehicles and components – to 263 countries worldwide.

Then there are low points, with this being one of them: For the first time in 20 years there is no country in Africa on the list of the top 10 exporters of built-up vehicles in the world.

Then there are some mind-blowing statistics such as: Global vehicle production in 2016 totalled 95 million units with 20 countries producing more than a million units. (South African factories produced 599 004 units last year, which was marginally down on the 616 082 units made in 2015).

Here is some more good news:

The vehicle and component sector contributed 33% to SA’s manufacturing output in 2016 and the total automotive sector, including retail, made up 7.4% of the country’s GDP.

Total automotive industry exports in 2016 increased by a substantial R19.6-billion or 12.9% to R171.1-billion and comprised 15.6% of SA’s total export earnings.

A record 344 859 vehicles, along with a diverse range of automotive components, were exported to 154 countries. The UK was the top destination for built-up vehicles, while catalytic converters were the highest volume component exported.

Overall Germany was the top export market for the local automotive industry with R46.8-billion worth of business. Next biggest market was the US.

Overall automotive exports in to Africa continued to perform relatively well, with exports to 38 countries totalling R31.3-billion in 2016, although built-up vehicle exports decreased.

“South African vehicle manufacturers must put much more focus on growing exports of built-up vehicles into other African countries, despite the economic downturn on the African continent,” says Dr Lamprecht.

“I am fully aware of the dire economic straits of many countries in Africa but still 1 022 348 new vehicles were sold in Africa in 2016, with only a paltry 21 564 of those units having come from South Africa. This means there must be opportunities for these companies to grow the number of vehicles they ship to other African countries, remembering that this total stood at 80 293 units as recently as 2012.”