From rugby players to ministers, from Karoo primary school learners to sub-Sahara African (SSA) vehicle buyers – everyone is interested in exactly how an Isuzu bakkie and truck is built.

Isuzu Motors South Africa is one of three manufacturing operations on the African continent which produces Isuzu vehicles. Since the beginning of the year, close to 1,000 visitors have made their way through the plant in Struandale in Port Elizabeth which assembles the Isuzu D-MAX in both left and right-hand drive, as well as trucks. The tours are led by employees who proudly share their knowledge of the Isuzu facilities and processes.

Recently a group of Ghanaian visitors, consisting of dealer representatives and government delegates, travelled all the way from the Gulf of Guinea city to visit the South African operations.

Isuzu distributor, MAC Ghana Head of Sales and Marketing, Maneesh Raseen said the 10 delegates were very impressed with the factory tour.

“Isuzu is a tough, powerful and reliable pick-up and is known for its performance and long-life durability – hence it is preferred by the Ghanaians. The Isuzu D-MAX can handle the poor-quality roads with ease and is extremely fuel efficient. Another reason why the vehicles are so popular is because of the low cost of ownership and maintenance,” said Raseen.

Earlier this year the Zimbabwean Minister of Industry and Commerce visited the production plant. Honourable Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu was the first Zimbabwean dignitary to visit Isuzu Motors South Africa’s production facility.

“More recently we welcomed delegations of Isuzu customers from the Middle East and Botswana, as well as a group from the Japanese Embassy. Furthermore, dozens of scholars, university students, business and government representatives, dealers and fleet owners continue to visit the plant,” said Johan Vermeulen, Isuzu Motors South Africa Executive Manufacturing and Supply Chain. 

The South African plant is the first, and currently the only, facility globally to receive Arctic Trucks International’s stamp of approval to build a production Arctic Truck model. The Isuzu D-MAX AT35 is now part of the Isuzu product portfolio in South Africa.

“Our experience of building light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles spans over four decades. Our vehicles are tough, reliable and durable and we continue to improve our processes,” said Vermeulen.

The plant tours are a tangible way of introducing the visitors to Isuzu’s facilities and capabilities.

“We are extremely proud of our production facility and the products that we build here. Our vehicles are locally engineered and meticulously built for the harsh African conditions,” he said. “Team members who work on the production line are proud to host visitors to our plant and most visitors are very impressed with how our employees at various levels are engaged in these tours. In their feedback to us, they praise the pleasant atmosphere and spirit in the plant,” Vermeulen added.

However, Vermeulen said despite visits by distinguished guests, plant tours by employees’ family members remain special. 

Caption: Visiting the Isuzu production plant are from left Dr Dawson Mareya, MD of Willowvale Motor Industries; Johan Vermeulen, Isuzu Executive Manufacturing and Supply Chain; Sean Waller, Autoworld Dealer shareholder; Honourable Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu, Zimbabwean Minister of Trade and Industry; Denise van Huyssteen, Executive Corporate Affairs, Business Strategy and Legal; and Paul Chenierayi, Autoworld Dealer shareholder.