Armscor’s Gerotek test facility is one of the state-owned defence and security acquisition agency’s properties earmarked for “sweating” to boost income.
Situated on the western outskirts of Pretoria in a Bushveld habitat the facility has hosted European, Asian and other international vehicle and tyre manufacturers. The client list includes names such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Porsche from Germany; Fiat, Ferrari and Jeep from Italy; Mahindra and Tata from India; Volvo from Sweden and Iveco’s Brazilian division, according to the Armscor external newsletter.
The majority of these vehicle and truck manufacturers use Gerotek for hot climate testing during the South African summer. Gerotek also provides support services including safe storage of imported test vehicles. It makes application for test permits simple, provides equipped office space and test tracks where vehicles can be tested, to destruction, if needs be. The facility offers catering services to test teams and a dedicated support representative to international test teams when using different sites elsewhere in the country, Armscor said.
Popular test destinations in South Africa include the Sabie area of Mpumalanga due to its altitude, humid and warm conditions. St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal is used for its high temperatures, low altitude and humid conditions. The Golden Gate area in the Free State is popular for its altitude, dry and colder conditions. The Upington area of the Northern Cape is known for dry and extremely hot conditions. Some manufacturers have invested in permanent workshops and office space in the Upington/Augrabies area and stay for testing over a three month period with a test team of more than 50 people seeing to a fleet of over a hundred test vehicles.
Most tests are done on vehicles not yet commercially available with car manufacturers using South Africa as a test site for new technologies in the electric, hybrid and autonomous vehicle classes as well as conventional internal combustion.
Typical test tests performed at Gerotek include dry and wet handling; dry and wet braking; lateral and longitudinal aquaplaning; rolling resistance which influences fuel consumption; noise and drive-by noise tests. Offroad tyres are also tested to determine traction characteristics in sand, mud, rocky terrain and general off-road conditions.
Other International manufacturers use Gerotek for endurance tests on their vehicles. These tests, anything from 25 to 100 000 km, ensure the manufacturer gains knowledge regarding the vehicle’s ability to operate effectively and efficiently and provide insight as to frequency of failures that can be expected. TATA, Mahindra, Suzuki, Fiat and Iveco all do this type of testing at Gerotek.
As part of its stated commitment to sweat its assets to improve revenue Armscor has identified Gerotek as a suitable one for development. Plans are underway to attract property developers with a view to further facilities being built on the site near Hartbeespoort Dam. One which has been mentioned is a new headquarters for Defence Intelligence and another came to light in the first edition of the Armscor external newsletter for 2018.
An illustration accompanying a piece on transformation of the property industry shows a banner advertising the “Gerotek Bush Lodge”.