The automotive industry is the largest manufacturing sector in South Africa’s economy and about 35% of the South African automotive components industry is located in the Nelson Mandela Bay area and there are a few giants calling the Bay home like General Motors SA, Volkswagen (VW) and the Ford Engine Plant and First Automotive Works (FAW). There are also a lot of suppliers here who are key players in the component supply chain of Mercedes Benz SA in East London.
Here in the Bay we talk cars.
There was a joke during the nineties that if you ever wanted to fix your Opel you should just go to Despatch. Despatch talked Opel, in fact they were fluent in Opel. For years I thought it was a joke until I overheard this same piece of advice in Bloemfontein, “Go to Despatch bru, they’ll help you with your car in no time”.
Here in the Bay we talk cars.
It’s true bru…
The biggest car factory on the African content is right here in the Bay in Uitenhage.
And then there is also the Aldo Scribante Race Circuit on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth. This track has seen numerous wheels from dirt car racing to drag racing to prestigious motorcycle races. If you want to experience the sound of a roaring engine, Aldo Scribante is the place to go. There are regular events and on the 27th of April you can join them for the Illegal 2 Legal Drags; the event is hosted by REV and Opel (see, what did I tell you), gates open at 6pm and if you are 10 or older, entry fee is R20.
If you have enjoyed the Autopavillion museum and factory tour at Volkswagen you will most definitely enjoy the reintroduction of another automotive experience in the Bay. And if you haven’t visited the Autopavillion in Uitenhage yet, saddle up and go; entrance is only R10 per person and if you have a Nelson Mandela Bay Pass Card you can enter for free.
General Motors in Struandale Port Elizabeth, one of the largest employers in the Bay, opened their plant tours to the public yet again.
While the automotive technology is forward-thinking and leaping into an innovative future, General Motors has been in the Bay long before most of us.
The headquarters and assembly operations of General Motors South Africa is located in Port Elizabeth; the initial construction of the Kempston Road plant started in the early 1930s while the final plant construction of both properties, Kempston Road and Struandale, happened during the 1960s.
The Product Communications Co-ordinator, Nandi Matomela said, “We have reintroduced plant tours, due to the growing interest from the public to see and understand the manufacturing process of a vehicle.”
The official 45-minute tour includes viewing and visiting the General Assembly line of the Chevrolet and Isuzu line.
It is the perfect activity and experience if you are thinking of doing something with that special someone in your life, whether it is yourself, an automotive fanatic, an engineer or someone who gets a kick out of precision and order.
The tour is completely FREE and it is conducted by knowledgable GM employees. All you need for the tour is long pants and closed shoes. The tour starts with watching a safety video, putting on a blue GM vest and getting your visitors pass before you reach the General Assembly line.
There is however one very important rule to remember when visiting the plant: stay within the marked yellow lines, and, if you change direction, practice the principle of looking left, right and left again.
The size of a tour group is minimum 1 and maximum 15, it is open to all on weekdays. Photography is not allowed during the tour.
So, what do you say… Va-va-vroom?