Toyota meeting mayor after it threatens to leave Durban

The mayor of eThekwini Municipality, Mxolisi Kaunda, will be visiting Toyota tomorrow morning, 21 July 2021, his spokesperson has told MyBroadband.

“[Our mayor will] give them assurance that the situation has stabilized and law enforcement is being deployed in all hotspot areas including industries affected,” he said.

This comes after Toyota’s regional officer for Africa, Toshimitsu Imai, wrote to Kaunda to express their concern about the violence and looting in KwaZulu-Natal.

Imai said a key priority for Toyota is the safety and welfare of their employees, their families, and the communities within which they operate.

“The safety and harmony within this ecosystem is a fundamental value we strive for because it enables us to be a successful business and thereby contribute to the communities and economies within which we can operate.

Unfortunately, he said, the incidents in the city have “left Toyota feeling very uncertain about the future of its business in KwaZulu-Natal”.

“Our manufacturing operations in the south of Durban were forced to close and have remained closed since Monday, 12 July 2021. We are uncertain as to when it will be safe enough for us to resume operations.”

Toyota South African Prospecton Plant
Toyota South African Prospecton Plant

The uncertainty caused by the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal means key deadlines may be missed. This, in turn, will hurt future prospects of Toyota’s local operations.

The closure of Toyota South Africa’s manufacturing operations jeopardises the company’s future sustainability, as it embarked on a recovery mission following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even a temporary closure of its Durban plant and the Durban harbour negatively impacted Toyota’s ability to fulfil its export mandate. Other areas had to satisfy the demand.

Disruption of the important N3 highway between Durban and Johannesburg also meant that Toyota South Africa is unable to deliver vehicles to customers in Gauteng.

Imai said the recent spate of riots have a significant impact on its plans to further invest in South Africa, especially when it comes to its alternative energy cars.

Toyota South Africa highlighted that it is busy with preparations to launch its first locally produced “new energy vehicle” later this year.

Toyota Prospecton Plant in Durban
Toyota Prospecton Plant in Durban

In January, Toyota South Africa Motors announced it would be manufacturing the new Corolla Cross in South Africa in the fourth quarter of the year.

The model reveal followed the company’s announcement in 2019 that it was investing R2.43 billion in the production of a new passenger vehicle in South Africa.

“We will be manufacturing the Corolla Cross in both right- and left-hand drive for South Africa and the rest of Africa right here at the Prospecton Plant in Durban,” Toyota South Africa Motors CEO Andrew Kirby said at the time.

It was also the first time that Toyota would be manufacturing a hybrid model, which Kirby believed would fast become a very popular choice.

“It is also the first time for us to manufacture using the Toyota New Global Architecture — which allows us to keep up with global technology and trends,” said Toyota South Africa Motors executive vice president, Nigel Ward.

The Presidency also announced earlier today that President Cyril Ramaphosa will meet with more than 90 CEOs and business leaders of key industries that have been impacted by last week’s civil unrest.

“The meeting will discuss steps being taken by government and business to recover and rebuild from the damage caused by last week’s events,” the Presidency stated.

“The Premiers of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal as well as Ministers of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; Public Enterprises; Tourism; Justice and Correctional Services; Mineral Resources and Energy; Finance; Small Business Development; Communications and Digital Technologies; Trade, Industry and Development; and the MEC of Economic Development in Gauteng and the MEC of Economic Development in KwaZulu-Natal will also be in attendance.”

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Toyota meeting mayor after it threatens to leave Durban