Nissan South Africa is bidding for the contract to make one-ton bakkies for the global market. The extension of the Motor Industry Development Programme could help South Africa win the contract.

Nissan South Africa is bidding for the contract to make one-ton bakkies for the global market. The extension of the Motor Industry Development Programme could help South Africa win the contract.

reported on Thursday that Nissan chief executive Mike Whitfield said they were already exporting 6 000 units a year to other African countries. "We are now looking at opportunities for built-up vehicles for worldwide and not just for Africa alone," he said. "However, the only reason for us to do this is if we can achieve global competitiveness," he said. "One of our key objectives is that our SA plant will become a production for exports outside Africa."

He told the newspaper they were bidding against other Nissan plants in South America, United States, Spain, United Kingdom and Thailand to build the one-ton Hardbody to start production in 2005. The exports would be destined for Europe, Australia and the Middle East.

Whitfield said he would use the extension of the MIDP to 2012 to convince the decision-makers in Japan that the Rosslyn plant was the right choice. "If we can produce a bakkie for export outside Africa, this would totally take Nissan SA to a new global level," he said. A decision is likely in the middle of the year.

Meanwhile, Ford South Africa’s chief executive told the newspaper that its parent company in the United States was considering sourcing four or five types of automotive components from South Africa.

Earlier this week, DaimlerChrysler South Africa said it was bidding for part of the contract to manufacturer the new-generation of C-Class vehicles. A decision will be made in October.