SA needs updated skills to produce cars in the future

While the global automotive market gears up for a future of electric and self-driving cars, South Africa still has a long way to go.

That was the consensus of a panel of automotive leaders, discussing the future of the industry at KPMG’s annual Global Automotive Executive Survey breakfast in Port Elizabeth.

The survey, polling executives and consumers from 43 countries, indicated that the priority for the automotive market leading up to 2025 would be fuel cell electric vehicles, with 52% of the respondents identifying the trend.

Despite this, the survey also predicts that there will still be demand for vehicles with internal combustion engines and battery-driven electric vehicles.

KPMG managing partner Alan Barr said executives predicted 26% of the vehicles on the road by 2040 would be battery-driven, while 25% would be fuel cell vehicles.

A further 25% would belong to internal combustion engine vehicles and 24% would be hybrid vehicles.

But South African manufacturers still had a lot of work to do before then.

Schaeffler South Africa managing director Marshal Myburgh said: “We’re not ready for the new technology here.

“[Our processes] are very manual and our education is too low. “We need to start seriously upskilling our people.” Lear South Africa financial director Paul Johnson said skills currently in demand would change dramatically over the next five to six years.

Manufacturers would also have to develop a strategy to ensure cyber-security in these vehicles of the future.

“It will be vital to have a strategy,” Johnson said. “The successful players will be the ones that protect their data.”