6 February 2014
The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government is considering establishing an automotive supplier park to boost the auto manufacturing sector in the province, Premier Senzo Mchunu said on Monday.
Speaking at Toyota South Africa’s Prospecton plant in Durban, at a ceremony marking the start of full production of the new-generation Toyota Corolla, Mchunu said the government was looking in the vicinity of the proposed dug-out port, on the site of the old Durban International Airport, for a possible venue for the supplier park.
“In 2012 the provincial government started negotiations with Toyota management in Japan, and we asked them to help us convince automobile suppliers to consider setting up their plants in this proposed park,” Mchunu said.
“There are also opportunities for automotive leather upholstery manufacturers to be located in the park and to supply automotive suppliers and manufacturers across the country and the international market.”
Mchunu commended Toyota for its contribution to job creation and skills development in the country, and said the provincial government was committed to working with the company to strengthen the automobile industry.
“Toyota has been producing vehicles here in Durban since 1962. Records show that in 2013 alone Toyota built more than 156 000 vehicles, of which 80 000 units were exported to Europe and African countries.”
Toyota’s Durban plant boasts an annual production capacity of more than 220 000 units, while the company supports more than 8 000 jobs in Durban and Johannesburg.
“Importantly, the government appreciates investments by Toyota towards skills development,” Mchunu said. “Thousands of employees who will be working in this production line have benefited from Toyota’s skills development programme.”
Toyota’s production of the new-generation Corolla follows a R1-billion investment made by the company in its Prospecton plant.
In a statement issued on Monday, Toyota South Africa CEO Johan van Zyl said the R1-billion investment was the second to be announced in the current phase of a capital expansion programme that started with a R363-million new parts distribution centre in Gauteng province in 2012.
This followed a R8-billion investment programme that was completed in 2008 and that saw Toyota’s local production capacity increase to 220 000 units. In December, the company celebrated the production of its 1-millionth South African produced Corolla.
SAinfo reporter and KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government