Having recently undergone a high-tech upgrade, South Africa’s AutoX battery plant continues to produce products that consistently outperform international standards
Port Elizabeth-based battery manufacturer AutoX has earned an enviable reputation globally for the quality of the products it manufactures – among them well-known brands such as Willard and Sabat and, for export, HiFase.
The company’s recently upgraded factory – incidentally, the first battery plant in Africa to have achieved ISO 9001 quality management accreditation, one of many international standards ratings the facility has earned over the years – produces a range of batteries based on a variety of technologies designed to serve original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as well as the automotive aftermarket.
“Since inception, AutoX has invested heavily in research and development, driven by a need to identify and solve market problems and to come up with innovative solutions aimed at increasing efficiency. Through new battery development, we’ve produced several patents and designs. We have also pioneered innovative charging algorithms that have set an international benchmark in the industry,” says Glenn Geldenhuis, the company’s CEO.
Established in 1954, AutoX has undergone several name changes under different owners. However, one thing has remained constant – a commitment to maintain a record of accomplishment as a battery producer of technological repute.
“We are dedicated to evolving our battery brands and pushing the boundaries where possible,” says Geldenhuis. “Over the years we’ve built a successful track record of consistent performance and value for money.”
These days the company supplies more than 3 000 retail outlets across South Africa and selected African countries with car, truck and motorcycle batteries, as well as batteries for industrial, agricultural and leisure use. Additionally, it manufactures house brand batteries for a number of aftermarket outlets and, on behalf of global conglomerate Johnson Controls, distributes the Varta battery range throughout the southern African region.
According to Geldenhuis, the lead-acid batteries produced by AutoX – which include Sealed Maintenance-Free (SMF) batteries, Enhanced Flooded Batteries (EFB +C) and Absorbed Glass Matt (AGM) batteries – consistently outperform international specified standards, a characteristic that he attributes to the use of high-grade materials – including specially formulated lead alloys – and specialised additives developed in-house.
“We have continuously upgraded our production processes and manufacturing facilities to maintain the highest standards possible,” he says during a tour of the plant. Stopping at a workstation on the line, he points out that, on the battery-casing side, production methods and curing processes have been customised to heighten consistency and deliver lightweight, attractive to look at, but highly robust finished items.
“Through innovations such as these, AutoX has become one of the world’s foremost battery suppliers, ensuring our products meet the demands of the most extreme conditions,” he says.
While each of the batteries manufactured at the plant is carefully monitored for defects throughout its various fabrication processes, no unit leaves the factory without being tested. “We benchmark our products against the best quality batteries in the world,” Geldenhuis maintains.
Commenting on the recently completed upgrades to the plant, he says AutoX will continue to optimise production efficiencies and address capacity constraints with a view to introducing to market new battery products.