President Cyril Ramaphosa, during the State of the Nation Address, made a number of announcements that even the opposition could never oppose. Among these was the need to promote job creation through local manufacturing and export stimulation.
As ordinary South Africans, we can and should all play our part in promoting local businesses, particularly those in manufacturing. But government as the single biggest consumer of goods and services can make a significant contribution in this regard, if public officials can finally be convinced to walk their talk or to put their money where their mouths are.
For instance, a recent study by a University of Witwatersrand University graduate found that South Africa could generate approximately R37 billion per annum if government stopped buying imported cars. However, we know how those in power choose to be transported in absolute luxury – remember Blade Nzimande’s BMW seven series, which his department defended as being “in line with the ministerial guidelines”. So, if Minister Nzimande and company decide to act on the pronouncement by the President and buy only locally manufactured cars, what options would they have to satisfy their taste for luxury mobility?
To satisfy their preference for German premium brands, the Roselyn-built X3 offers all the creature comforts a minister who has to attend important government meetings could ask for. That includes generous legroom for rear passengers, plush heated leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, climate control, and a full complement of passive and active safety features as well as driver assist programmes. The top spec X3 M40i produces a satisfying 265 kW of power, handy for rushing through traffic in those blue light convoys. That’s everything a discerning minister could ever need, all for R1 038 379.
Mercedes Benz C-Class
The C-Class is the other luxury German nameplate that’s built in South Africa. It’s one of the very few sedans that still secure reasonable sales, but I’m sure Mercedes Benz won’t mind a boost from more government sales.
In C300 AMG-Line guise, the Merc offers pretty much everything found in the pricier X3, except for the rear heated seats. It also has less oomph under the right foot but still develops a respectable 190 kW. Here the minister would take about R790 000 out of the fiscus.
Topping out at around R750 000, the Ford Everest with its proper off-road capability should be the vehicle of choice for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. Its built Ford tough exterior design is contrasted by a host of luxury interior items in the top spec Everest Limited including climate control, multiple USB and 12V power points, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an array of safety and comfort systems and the all-important seven seater capacity. It’s worth pointing out that the third row seats completely fold away under the floor, allowing the massive 2010 litres cargo capacity.
The ever-green and stylish Fortuner is not the best-selling SUV in SA by chance. The range topper is blessed with a V6 tough as nails motor generating 175 kW of power. Sharing the same DNA as the Hilux means the Fortuner is perfectly comfortable tackling unpaved rural roads as it is on the open road thanks to its more sophisticated rear suspension as opposed to its bakkie sibling.
The Fortuner is not a budget breaker either with the top spec coming in at R715 000.
Hilux and Ranger
Then there’s the duo of the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger, which have evolved to a point where they can perfectly straddle the utilitarian work horse role and the lifestyle demands of a people carrier.
Double cab bakkies have become the new status symbols in society beating even the onslaught of SUVs and crossovers, which have stolen sales from all other segments and even caused the demise of sedans.
At R655 900 for the top spec Ranger Wildtrak and R680 400 for the range topping Hilux, these double cab bakkies offer the best value for money, a fact confirmed by the monthly new vehicle sales that are consistently dominated by the two.
At the lower echelons of power there’s the Nissan NP300 Hardbody, and unrivalled NP200 half-tonner for more utilitarian needs. Toyota’s Corolla and Corolla Quest offer an alternative for those who still prefer sedans, while the superb Polo and Polo Vivo fill the gap at the entry-level end of the spectrum. And if we are really serious about cutting costs and buying local, then all planned Merc V-Class purchases should be replaced with the Toyota Quantum. However, I very much doubt that public officials will ever swap their luxury vehicles to experience what ordinary South Africans go through every day in their quest to generate taxable income for the government.