SA battery manufacturers turn to Itac, Metair laments costly strikes

28 Nov 2014
Engineering News

The South African Battery Manufacturers Association was in the process of launching an application with the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (Itac), for protection against what it viewed as the dumping of Korean manufactured vehicle batteries, said Metair MD Theo Loock on Tuesday.

Metair manufactured batteries in South Africa, Romania and Turkey.

Loock said it was a “natural progression” that Korean component manufacturers would follow its homegrown car brands, such as Kia, to South Africa, but believed the “extensive export grants” provided to the Korean battery manufacturing industry were “anti-competitive”.

These grants amounted to 0-million over the last five years, said Loock.

The association was specifically focused on the AtlasBX battery range, distributed by Tiger Wheel & Tyre.

Loock said South Africa was the latest country to seek protection against the importation of Korean batteries, following Kenya, Morocco and Botswana, among other countries.

He believed AtlasBX had a 15% to 20% share of aftermarket battery sales in South Africa.
Metair on Tuesday reported revenue of R5.23-billion for the financial year ended December 31, compared with R4.6-billion in the 2012 financial year.

The vehicle component manufacturer recorded operating profit of R445.6-million, down from R569.8-million in 2012.

Without the positive contribution from Rombat this would have been “a very different set of results”, with last year’s nine-week strike in the South African automotive industry largely to blame for the decline in profit, noted Loock.

He estimated losses owing to strike action at R87-million.