Mahindra South Africa has officially opened its new vehicle assembly facility in Durban, where it will assemble the Pik Up in both single- and double-cab body styles.

Located in the Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone next to King Shaka International Airport in KwaZulu-Natal, the new facility was constructed in partnership with AIH Logistics.

Mahindra SA says the move represents an initial investment of R10-million in facilities and equipment. Trial production will start at the end of May 2018, with full production to kick off in July 2018.

The new assembly facility will have an annual production capacity of 2 500 bakkies on a single-shift operation.

However, the local arm of the Indian automaker says the plant’s “modular design easily allows for an increase of production to 4 000 units per annum or the addition of any other Mahindra vehicle”. Mahindra says it has set a target of sourcing 40% of components (measured by value) of its Pik Up range from local suppliers.

“Our focus is on the bakkie segment, where Mahindra is now one of the six best-selling bakkie brands in South Africa,” said Avinash Bapat, CFO of Mahindra South Africa.

“We will start with the assembly of the Mahindra Pik Up range, but this does not mean that we could not in future add another pick-up or commercial vehicle or even one of our tractor models or heavy-duty power generator systems to the assembly line,” he added.

Rajesh Gupta, the CEO of Mahindra SA, echoed Bapat's thoughts.

“The assembly of the Pik Up is a very important step, but it remains only the first step in our long-term plan that will see us increase employment, local sourcing and content as well as the complexity of our assembly facility in KwaZulu-Natal.”