Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) today celebrated the start of local volume production of the new Toyota Corolla – the 11th generation of the world’s best-selling car.
The celebration was held at its Prospecton manufacturing facility and was attended by the honourable Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Edward Senzo Mchunu, the mayor of the Ethekwini metropole, Mr James Nxumalo and representatives of Toyota Motor Corporation, TSAM, labour unions and staff.
“This celebration is the culmination of several years of planning and preparation and over R1 billion of direct investment in the production capabilities of the Prospecton manufacturing facility,” says Dr Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors.
He explains that the R1 billion investment is the second to be announced in the current phase of capital expansion that started with the R363 million new Parts Distribution Centre in Gauteng in 2012. This phase follows a R8 billion investment programme that was completed in 2008 and that saw Toyota’s local production capacity increase to 220 000 units.
“It is hard to believe that a mere two generations of the Corolla ago we were a manufacturing operation with South Africa as our sole market. Today the Corolla, a good example of leading edge technology, is manufactured in high volumes for both the local and the export markets,” says Van Zyl.
The success of Toyota and the automotive industry’s transformation from local manufacturing and assembly operations to globally-focussed manufacturing facilities is due to the successful implementation of the government’s Motor Industry Development Programme, which was designed to encourage high volume local manufacturing and export programmes.
The environment created by the MIDP, and subsequently the challenges posed by the new Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) allows vehicle manufacturing facilities to invest in long term projects that have long investment horizons.
“The decision to invest in the production of the new Toyota Corolla is one taken well in advance of the start of production and one that considers the future economic prospects of South Africa and that of major Corolla export markets. We believe that despite the current economic slowdown and currency pressures the South African built Corolla will prove to be a good long term investment,” says Dr Van Zyl.
Despite the opportunities offered by the production and export of the Corolla, many challenges remain:
“The 7 week long production disruption in the last quarter of 2013 damaged our reputation as a trustworthy and stable supplier of vehicles. We will have to work hard to find a mutually beneficial solution with our labour partners to stabilise production for both the local and export market,” says Dr Van Zyl.
The new Corolla is a brand new vehicle that offers a new level of technology and refinement for Toyota in the C segment.
Says Calvyn Hamman, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Toyota South Africa Motors: “The new Corolla is a new vehicle in every way and represents some of the best technology that Toyota has to offer in this very important market segment. The fact that South African produced Corollas will be on sale in Africa and Europe is a feather in the cap of local engineering capabilities.”
Toyota South Africa Motors celebrated the production of its 1 millionth South African produced Corolla in December 2013. This follows a similar global celebration in September 2013, after the 40 millionth Corolla was delivered to a customer in July of last year. This means that a Corolla is sold every 30 seconds to a customer, ensuring its position in the Guiness Book of World Records as the world’s most popular nameplate.