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South African production of German marques - Nicholas Moore
Is it true that all RHD current model Mercedes and BMW for the UK market are manufactured in South Africa? When did this start? Can I get a Mercedes built in Germany if I collect it personally from the Sindelfingen plant? Is there any way of telling where a car was built from its chassis number? What about VW and Audi?
Re: South African production of German marques - Honest John
Most RHD current C Class saloons and most RHD VW Golf Mk IVs are built in South Africa. Ian from Cape Town will soon add to this thread with the most accurate information.

HJ
Re: South African production of German marques - T lucas
Is it important where they are built?
Re: South African production of German marques - David Millar
Personally I think it probably is important where they are built if there is a possibility of different perceptions of quality control. Do I want to buy or expect reliability from a Suzuki built in India or Bulgaria rather than Japan? Given the option, I will opt for the Japanese version. Probably it boils down to individual factories being different if one can find out where your car was built. For example, the first American-built Mercedes 4x4s were slated by Top Gear for build quality but I wouldn't condemn either Mercedes as a whole or all US car plants as a result.

David Woollard will correct me, if I'm wrong, but I think the BX estates were not built by Citroen; the XM estates certainly weren't although I think the company that was sub-contracted was eventually bought out by Citroen. My old VW Syncro was built not by VW but by Steyr in Austria. Some of these specialist builds can be better quality, I suspect, than the factory model. It isn't necessarily always the case if stories about quality of finish on the Kia Sportage are true. It's built by Karmann in Germany.

Sorry about the ramble but it is interesting sometimes to know who built what and where.

David
Re: South African production of German marques - ian (cape town)
Thanks for the fanfare, HJ!
Firstly - RHD VW's Mercs and BMW's have been exported from SA for a number of years now, to Australia and UK. I read recently that UK will now have ALL their Golf IV's made here. Massive retooling at Uitenhage (VW plant).
VW also exports a RHD called a Fox - like a golf 1 with a boot - to mainland China, in substantial numbers.
BMW in Rosslyn, near Pretoria, is shifting a lot of 3 series out, and importing the bigger marques (The market won't justify a production line here).
Ford used to export pick-up trucks (looked like a Cortina from the front) to UK in the 80s as well.
As far as quality goes, it is a curates egg. VW is very good, and Merc is improving all the time.
But at one stage (due to a lot of militancy amonst the workers, as the nation changed) the QC at the plants was very poor, and there was much sabotage of cars on the line.
That is now sorted out.
In a nutshell, yes we export cars. Yes, their quality has improved, and yes, they are to a high spec.
In fact, SA has been a great user of German cars since long before UK woke up to the fact...
SO... do you want a car put together by somebody who has been making RHD's all his life, or by someone who has shifted across from the LHD line temporarily?
Re: South African production of German marques - El Dingo (Martin)
I remember opening the bonnet of a Hillman Hunter in Johannesburg that had broken down to be confronted with a Peugeot engine!
Re: South African production of German marques - David W
David,

Thank you for you faith in me but i'm afraid I don't know the build locations of different Citroen bodies. I realised years ago remembering informatioin was more efficiently acheived on a "need to know" basis. Hence I remember the useful tech bits and leave others with a different kind of coat to tell me how many model variants/where they were built/who designed the seat material etc. No disrespect intended ;-).

I am aware the estates are often built in a different plant. Some say there are problems with the Xantia estates for this reason. I'm not convinced.

David
Re: South African production of German marques - Phil P
This reminds me of a 'Car' magazine from the early '90s which featured a VW-badged lemon on the front cover. This was in honour of their long term test Golf VR6 which was dogged by problems. They advised readers to buy the Corrado since it was built by Karmann and did not suffer the same problems.
Now VW have have got their act together perhaps it's Karmann's turn for a quality slump!
Re: South African production of German marques - steve
my 2001 golf estate 1.6 se was built in wolfburg acording to the vin
Re: South African production of German marques - steve
there are some people who believe that the ones built in germany are screwed together better. Never seen any stats to prove it though.
Re: South African production of German marques - Andrew Barnes
All 2001/2 model Golf GTIs are manufactured in Germany, look for the 'W' in the VIN number.

Cheers

Andrew
Re: South African production of German marques - Simon Saxton

My 1997 C250TD has ..Made in Germany,on the Chassis plate. This issue was raised on another forum a little while ago. Apparently Mercedes have been been( made) in S.Africa for some years(for local retailing).This taking the form of knockdown kits i.e. sub assemblies. Much the same as Ford did in the 60s with V6 Cortinas etc.
I understand that S.Africa are now taking on full production having gained experience.
No doubt someone else can correct & substantiate this?
I would only want a German manufactured product myself.

Simon
Re: South African production of German marques - ian (cape town)
Simon,

Mmmm... only about 60 years of it... We don't all live in Mud Huts, you know...
VW has been here since at least 1955, Ford and GM much longer.

A company called CDA (car distributors and assemblers) have been in East London (a coastal town here, not Essex side) making MB's for at least 25 years. Some are in SKD, but many are 80% local content.
They also made Hondas for about 15 years, from the early 80s.
As mentioned higher up in the thread, the local market for german cars is much larger than in UK, as:
(a) We got a lot of the cr*p that Leyland made in the 80s, so public perception of UK cars went out the window, and they bought German instead!
(b) Sanctions bit, and many manufacturers pulled out, except the Germans and Japanese. (notice something about these two nations?)
The reason that there are more and more cars made here for export is simple - MONEY!
The currency has fallen through the floor recently, so manufacturing costs are much cheaper on thsi side.
For example, the average monthly wage for an auto worker would be about GBP 200, at the current rate...
Re: South African production of German marques - Simon Saxton

My 1997 C250TD has ..Made in Germany,on the Chassis plate. This issue was raised on another forum a little while ago. Apparently Mercedes have been been( made) in S.Africa for some years(for local retailing).This taking the form of knockdown kits i.e. sub assemblies. Much the same as Ford did in the 60s with V6 Cortinas etc.
I understand that S.Africa are now taking on full production having gained experience.
No doubt someone else can correct & substantiate this?
I would only want a German manufactured product myself.

Simon
Re: South African production of German marques - T lucas
Does that mean that mean that the Turkish production line worker in Germany does a better job than Mr Mandela does in South Africa?Seems strange to me.
Re: Brazilian production of German marques - Diesel Dave
We have a T registered Golf 1.6SE - according to the VIN - from info found on here - confirmed by the LOVELY woman at the dealers, it was built in Brazil.

Right now we are waiting for the AA to arrive as the Lights have just stopped working, it has been back to the dealers quite a few times for niggling faults and it rattles more than it should - Mrs Dave is very annoyed about it and I can't help thinking it is because it was built in Brazil.

I had a Bora for a while and the colour and design of the odometer / trip computer digital display was different. also the vanity mirrors in the sunvisors were of a different ( better ) type perhaps these are tell tale signs. it was covered on here some time ago.
Re: Brazilian production of German marques - Mark (Brazil)

> than it should - Mrs Dave is very annoyed about it and I
> can't help thinking it is because it was built in Brazil.

omigoodgod.

It was built in a place called Curitiba, I expect. Although there is a possibility it comes from Sao Paulo.

It will break. It will break a lot.

I used to work for a company called Tritec in Curitiba, its a BMW/Chrysler joint venture. (that's right, predates MB), its the place where they make (possibly made) the engine for the new BMW Mini. Interestingly, as an aside, the decision that the new Mini would be a BMW was made in around 98. -don't care what anybody else says, I was in that meeting.

They were going to close it down due to a reduction in capacity, but it was reprieved after BMW decided it was going to close the UK stuff down. That happened just around the time of the Chrysler/MB deal, so that tells you how long ago, 'cos I can't remember exactly.

I believe the factory is still going, although it might not be.

Anyway, I used to visit GM, VW and Renault in Brazil, Curitiba & Sao Paulo.

I might drive a Brazilian made car, but I wouldn`t pay for it !!
Re: South African production of German marques - Dan J
Just for the record, we have two Cavaliers (shortly only to be one) - One built in the UK, one built by Opel AG. Guess which one has been plagued with trouble - poor build quality, internal engine faults, dodgy electrics and all with 50k miles less than the other one? It ain't the British one that's for sure.

Anyway, everyone seems to have the idea that German cars are all built extremely well by highly professional technicians in a precision environment. Half true, like everywhere else in the world, the cars are built by people earning low salaries who have ludicrous targets to meet. German build quality (Audi/Mercedes) is already going down and not "what it used to be" to use quotes from others on this site who own the vehicles. I see arrogance with the current market situation in a similar fashion to the Japanese of a few years back and whether the German manufacturers realise it or not, the consumer will bite back eventually.

Maybe picking a Vauxhall/Opel is not a good example but you see the point...
Benefits of South African-made vehicles... - ian (cape town)
I've just spoken to a friend in the trade, who points out that SA made vehicles are of a better spec than most European ones.
The reason is that here we have a diversity of road conditions (from super highways to dirt tracks), heat and cold conditions (-15 to +40C), and a blazing sun, which really bakes the paintwork and trim, and as such the cars have to be adapted to accomodate.
Paintwork, plastic and rubber trims etc are normally of a higher standard than the euro stuff, apparently. the suspension is a bit more robust.
This is why many manufacturers send their vehicles over here for road testing. (I often see thinly disguised BMW's and Mercs on the west coast road).
Normally, the only difference between a domestic-use car and an export model are the speedometer (we use them new-fangled kilometers here).
Re: Benefits of South African-made vehicles... - alex mcwhirter
Ian confirms that RHD VW Golfs and Mercedes C class vehicles have been exported to the UK and
Australia for a number of years from plants in South Africa.
But what about the RHD VW Golfs/Mercedes C classes which arrive in the UK from
mainland Europe, Scandinavia and elsewhere, either as personal imports or brought in by the
mega car supermarkets.
Are they also made in South Africa, I wonder ?
Re: Benefits of South African-made vehicles... - Andrew Barnes
I have recently imported/helped import 5 VW Golfs from Denmark, all were made in Wolfsburg (W in the VIN number). I have looked at other UK supplied VW Golf and they are also German built.

Cheers

Andrew
Re: Benefits of South African-made vehicles... - ChrisR
Surely the point about all this is not quality control but the madness of an economic system that means importing from the other side of the world is cheaper than from a few hundred miles away. Global warming anybody?

Chris
Re: Benefits of South African-made vehicles... - Tony
Yeah,but if you live nearest to Longbridge you are going to be in trouble.
Re: Benefits of South African-made vehicles... - Julian Lindley
Ian,


Your contribution has broadened my knowledge base!

Until recently I was an employee of one of the larger UK multinationals, recently taking early retirement after 30 years service, I have modest engineering expertise and I also own a year old MB 200K.

My view largely mirrors your own. QA can be a problem for multinationals overseas, but structures within the organisation pin these down early, usually in pre production work. Production quirks also occur as a result of materials sourced locally not behaving in the same way as the same item manufactured by the parent plant, and of course, there are variations on this theme.

Your comments re the number of years European cars have been manufactured in SA must be a substantial bonus. This does mean that constant QA vigilance is needed to avoid the pitfalls, which in turn means a quality management. I would like to think that MB is a company that has a standard to maintain --- a good one, of course!

Regards

Julian
locally sourced materials - Phil P
I suppose one of the most important materials is the steel for the monocoque. I heard that rusting of steels is accelerated by a relatively high copper content. Eg. steels used in old italian cars had a higher Cu content, with unfortunate results. Does SA mine it's own steel, or is that imported from Europe?
Re: locally sourced materials - Marcus ( Sheffield )
MINE ??

Steel can be made in two ways - from remelted scrap in an electric arc furnace - or it can be made from pig iron using the Basic Oxygen Steelmaking process invented in Sheffield by Henry Bessemer.

IT then has to be rolled into sheets.

There are Several Steel mills in South Africa so there is no problem in sourcing steel locally - Pretoria certainly has a steel mill.

All steel will rust if not treated - the important thing is that it is galvanised and painted properly, some italian cars in the 70's were not painted properly and may have already started going rusty before being painted.

Marcus
Re: locally sourced materials - ian (cape town)
Yes,
The HUGE parastatal Iscor (Iron and Steel Corporation) produces all SA steel needs, plus is a great exporter.
Further to earlier posts re quality, apparently SA steel is highly sought after, as it is very good quality, and not remelted muck.
(we export that scrap as well - to japan!)
Re: South African production of German marques - Honest John
In answer to Tony, the Longbridge built Rover 75s are better than the Oxford built 75s. And they benefit from MG/Rover suspesion, so handle better. Tell them apart by body colour sills on Longbridge 75s; black sills on Oxford 75s.

HJ
Re: locally sourced materials - MPA
Many many moons ago I bought a new Fiesta. In the dealer's shed (behind the showroom) were two of the model and colour that I wanted. One was made in Germany the other in the UK, the better quality of the German one was (alas) glaringly obvious....
 

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