SOUTH AFRICA – Automotive company Volkswagen South Africa’s (VWSA’s) Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Initiatives Trust has invested R13.5 million (US$0.78m) in black-woman-owned heavy-truck dealership GardenRouteMan (GRM) Auto as part of its efforts to transform the automotive supply chain.

GRM Auto currently owns three MAN truck dealerships in Gqeberha, East London, and George. GRM Auto marks the trust’s first downstream investment in the automotive supply chain, says B-BBEE Initiatives Trust CEO Neeraj Kessery.

“The B-BBEE Initiatives Trust has optimized its internal processes to ensure it supports businesses with their requirements. The B-BBEE Initiatives Trust is proud to state that several of the companies funded by us are partial, if not fully, women-owned,” he adds.

GRM Auto majority shareholder Akhona Mosiane adds that the company is eager to participate in the trust’s other support programs for beneficiaries to grow the business to its full potential

“Transformation is imperative for VWSA and supporting businesses such as GRM Auto is a significant step in the right direction,” said VWSA corporate and government affairs director Nonkqubela Maliza.

“Through the B-BBEE Initiatives Trust, we are able to consistently work towards the goal of an inclusive automotive industry and play a part in alleviating the problem of unemployment in the Eastern Cape and the larger South Africa.”

Meanwhile, Martina Biene has been appointed the new chair and MD of Volkswagen SA (VWSA), the first woman to lead the local carmaker.

Her appointment is effective November 1 and she succeeds Robert Cisek, who leaves VWSA to take up the position of head of VW’s small and compact product line in Wolfsburg, Germany. He will report to Thomas Schaefer, CEO of the Volkswagen passenger car brand and former MD of VWSA.

Biene, currently the head of the VW line in Wolfsburg, returns to VWSA for her second spell, following her tenure as the head of the VW passenger brand from October 2018 to August 2020.

She has 20 years of experience in the VW Group, having worked in Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and SA.

Cisek took over the reins at VWSA in November 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and led the local company through a turbulent period of semiconductor shortages, which affected the Kariega plant production and vehicle sales. Cisek also ensured that no jobs were lost at VWSA during this period.

“I would like to thank Robert for steering VWSA to a stable position during a highly challenging period for the local and global automotive industry,” said Schaefer.

“I am looking forward to having him back in Wolfsburg to head our small and compact product line, which will play an important part in the future of our product portfolio in emerging markets like SA.”

Volkswagen has been assembling cars in SA since 1951 and its Kariega plant produces the Polo for the local and export markets, as well as the Polo Vivo for the local market.

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