Toyota’s big South African manufacturing plans

Toyota South Africa has big plans to invest in its local manufacturing operations, reports the Sunday Times.

According to Toyota South Africa president and CEO Andrew Kirby, this includes buying new equipment, upgrading its facilities, and prioritising carbon-neutral activities.

“We are making significant investments even in this soft economic environment because we have a long-term view that if we don’t invest, it’s going to be very difficult for us in the future,” said Kirby.

He added that although 2023 was a tough year for the industry, Toyota South Africa did not cut any jobs, and its new investments will likely result in new jobs.

“The biggest opportunity for job creation is in localising manufacturing components and we’ll make some announcements later in the year related to investments,” said Kirby.

He added that while the first quarter of 2023 started well, sales weakened as the year went on — ensuring Toyota achieved only a 0.5% improvement over 2022 and a total sales volume of 532,098 — well below the predicted 570,000.

This is despite a record-breaking final quarter, where it sold 142,612 units — which was both the highest quarterly volume since 2007 and equalled the best market share on record.

Big announcements from Toyota

Kirby’s statements follow a series of other major announcements from the popular car brand last week.

For example, Toyota announced it would be launching its first hybrid powertrains for the Hilux bakkie and Fortuner SUV in South Africa in March 2024.

These vehicles were first announced in June 2023 and will feature a 48V mild hybrid system, which is different from the Toyota Hybrid System available in the Corolla Cross and RAV4 vehicles.

The 48V system only reduces fuel consumption by about 5% and is primarily intended to improve stop-start engine efficiency.

Toyota also announced that its first fully electric vehicle will be sold in South Africa starting January 2025.

The BZ4X does not yet have South African pricing, but the US price starts at $43,070 (R812,513 excl. VAT and duties).

It will likely cost significantly more than this in South Africa due to the country’s heavy taxation of electric vehicles.

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Toyota’s big South African manufacturing plans