As a global company with a significant footprint around the world, mainly in Southeast Asia where it is headquartered, RMA Automotive (RMAA) is this year celebrating 15 years of operations in South Africa.
Speaking at the anniversary function in Centurion earlier this month (14 November), Christian Wiedmann, senior vice president and Automotive managing director, said that the importance of South Africa in the company’s strategy cannot be overstated, especially regarding African automotive development.
As a leading manufacturer and supplier of modified special vehicles, accessories, and parts, RMA Automotive offers pre-engineered special vehicle solutions to the global market, including in Africa. RMAA intends to further expand its footprint on the continent by contributing to the economic development of African nations.
“The talent pool in Africa is vast, diverse, and eager to participate in the global economy,” he stated. “As such, we intend to further invest in our capabilities here, particularly in education, skills development, and fostering innovation.”
In this regard Wiedmann was also referring to South Africa where the company overcame many challenges in the past 15 years. He thanked his colleagues for their dedication to make the operation a success.
His sentiments were echoed by Alan Caugant, RMA Managing Director for Manufacturing. Caugant highlighted the company’s track record of 40 years delivering tailor-made mobility solutions to global fleet customers operating in the most challenging sectors. “These are defence, mining, healthcare and rescue, agriculture, aid and humanitarian.”
On display outside the venue were several of RMAA South Africa’s modified special vehicles, including an affordable box-body ambulance for rough terrain to be used in remote or hard to access areas, which could be very useful in Africa. It is also ideal for mine sites and the military; it can be mounted on any of South Africa’s local pick-up platforms.
In his presentation, RMAA South Africa country manager Brendan Londt explained the original purpose of the local operation.
“It was to contribute to preparation for the US Army TACOM (tank-automotive and armaments command) project,” Londt stated. “It involved sourcing and preparing Ford Ranger vehicles from several Ford production plants around the world, including South Africa, for the Afghanistan Police. In the end, although RMA delivered 43 000 vehicles, only a handful came from the South African workshop.”
This ultimately led to modification of vehicles for sectors other than the military, notably security and other mobility solutions in the mining and industrial spheres. Vehicle modification is very much part of the business. According to Londt, fitment of accessories sourced locally and abroad resulted in a fully functional engineering and design department, creating accessories specific to customer needs.
“Technology has played and will continue to play, a pivotal role in our expansion strategy across Africa,” Londt said. “Embracing innovative solutions, materials and designs, will enable us to deliver purpose-built products and class leading solutions catering to the specific needs of each market sector.”
He mentioned the company’s access to all wheel drive system conversions, left-hand drive to right-hand drive conversions, and Digital Signal Blackout systems required for military purposes.
Whilst its focus is modifying conventional vehicles, the company is also working on electric vehicles, especially those with the same dimensions as internal combustion engines (ICEs). According to Caugant, RMAA’s testing of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) for humanitarian applications in Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya is having positive results. The company is also converting ICE vehicles to PHEV for the military in Singapore.
RMAA is based in Silverton, Pretoria, where its 1 500 square metre manufacturing facility is focused on the company’s vehicle modification business and the supply of RMA Special Vehicles.
In February 2022 it was reported that RMAA South Africa’s Ford Vehicle Personalisation team relocated to the newly built Ford Motor Company South Africa Vehicle Modification Centre (VMC). This is where the company will continue to provide accessory fitments to Ford Ranger vehicles for the local and export markets.