New model to be built in left and right hand drive variants for local and export markets.
Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) has started local volume production of the new Toyota Corolla – the 11th generation of the world’s best-selling car.
To mark the occasion an opening ceremony was held at its Prospecton manufacturing facility that was attended by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Edward Senzo Mchunu, the mayor of the Ethekwini, 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,” said Dr Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors.
He explained 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 an 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 seven 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.