KLT Automotive and Tubular Products SA, the chassis and tubing manufacturer, has announced the production of the 800 000th Ford Ranger chassis at its Hammanskraal, northern Gauteng plant.
KLT Group is a chassis and tubing manufacturer in India, with customers such as Tata, Mahindra, Daimler, Ashok Leyland and Volvo/Eicher and operates 11 plants. KLT Automotive SA, a subsidiary of KLT Group, currently employs more than 700 people and is the only chassis manufacturer outside of OEMs located in South Africa.
Ashok Thakur, CEO of KLT Automotive and Tubular Products SA, explained: “10 years ago KLT set up a green field, dedicated manufacturing plant, to supply Ford with chassis, and is the exclusive chassis supplier for Ford Rangers built in South Africa. Vehicles built with chassis from this plant have been exported worldwide.”
“This has enabled KLT to successfully create a local manufacturing ecosystem that competes with the best of the world in terms of skills, employment, equipment, production capabilities and capacity.”
“Production starts from a basic steel coil, from which the complete chassis is built comprising over 200 components at our state-of-the-art plant in Hammanskraal. The plant has 29 presses and over 130 welding robots.”
Mr Thakur added, “We are further committed at increasing capacity. Over the next three years we are targeting doubling our business. Growth will be both organic and inorganic. Going forward, KLT is fully committed to South Africa and is actively diversifying its customer base.”
Ockert Berry, VP Operations at Ford South Africa, said Ford is proud of its long relationship with KLT which is indicative of the level of local production capabilities in the local automotive component industry. “This bodes well for KLT. The 800 000th chassis production is a significant milestone,” he said.
Renai Moothilal, Executive Director of the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM), added that the KLT Automotive story in South Africa is a perfect example of how global companies are responding to the policy constructs of the SA Automotive Masterplan 2035, and wishes KLT well in gaining more local production opportunities.
“They have proven to be a manufacturer of quality and reliable chassis and tubular products, and combined with the level of hi-tech robotic equipment used in the Ford Ranger chassis production line, the company has the technical capability and skills to grow into other markets, both locally and overseas and become a major exporter.”
“NAACAM is proud of KLT’s achievements both in South Africa and worldwide. The company is playing a crucial role in the local component manufacturing industry as well as proving SA’s ability to compete in export markets with the very best,” Mr Moothilal added.
Mr Yunus Hoosen, Head of Investment South Africa at dtic, added: “KLT, a component manufacturer to the Gauteng region, is operating in line with the South African Automotive Masterplan (SAAM) by contributing to the SA automotive industry becoming a globally competitive and transformed industry. KLT is actively contributing to the sustainable development of SA’s productive economy, creating opportunities for industry stakeholders and broader society.”
Jubin Thakkar, KLT Group Chairman and Managing Director, believes that recent regulatory changes relating to local content has provided an opportunity for auto component companies.
“While all OEMs are aggressively looking at increasing their local content, KLT is already in discussions with five of the seven auto manufacturing companies for more localisation. We have locally-created skills through which we are able to produce components with high local content.”
“The group remains committed to strengthening its footprint in South Africa and other African countries and will continue to invest in new technologies and skills development as it grows its African business interests,” he explained.
Miloni Thakkar, Director of KLT Group, added: “It is a moment of pride and a joyous achievement for KLT Group to supply the 800 000th chassis for Ford Motor Company. Our late chief promoter and founder, Bhavin Thakkar epitomises the idea of ‘The Great Indian Story’ and we dedicate this illustrious achievement to him and strive to build on this legacy.”