Toyota South Africa starts taxi assembly

9 July 2012

Toyota South Africa has opened the R70-million Toyota Ses’fikile minibus taxi assembly line at its manufacturing plant at Prospecton in Durban, creating 300 new jobs, and the government is keen for other manufacturers to follow suit.

The plant has begun semi knockdown (SKD) production of the popular 16-seater Quantum Ses’fikile, which has one seat more than the imported 15-seater variant.

Ninety new jobs were created in the assembly line’s start-up phase, as well as 210 new positions in up- and downstream suppliers and service providers support the line.

The Ses’fikile joins Toyota South Africa’s local production of the Hilux, Fortuner and Corolla model ranges, which are locallty manufactured, and its entire range of Hino trucks, which are locally assembled, strengthening the company’s position as South Africa’s largest vehicle manufacturer and exporter.

Toyota’s made-in-South Africa models are currently exported to 57 countries, and the Ses’fikile and Hino-ranges are exported to neighbouring Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

Once the first phase of localisation has been completed, Toyota will have the ability to deliver up to 15 000 Ses’fikile units to the southern African market. Initial production volumes are estimated at 10 000 units.

Developing SA’s lead manufacturing sector

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, speaking at the official opening of the new assembly line on Saturday, said the government’s policy stance had always been to create this window of opportunity for mini-bus manufacturers to make the necessary investment to localise their production facilities.

He said the automotive industry remained the leading manufacturing sector in the domestic economy.

“It has strong linkages with other industries across the South African economic landscape,” Davies said. “Through backward linkages, it draws in products from a range of other manufacturing sectors, including steel, metal, plastic and leather products. Forward linkages extend to financial services, motor retail and advertising.”

Davies said the government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan 2 (IPAP2) included a medium and heavy commercial vehicle (MHCV) development action plan that revolved around the completion of a study to identify opportunities and interventions to resuscitate the local MHCV sector.

Driving the plan, Davies said, was the fact that the MHCV sector was labour-intensive in terms of assembly, while a more active sector could also broaden South Africa’s automotive component manufacturing industry.

‘First fruits of Industrial Policy Action Plan’

Also speaking at Saturday’s launch, Toyota South Africa CEO Johan van Zyl said the local taxi industry was “a very important part of the daily lives of more than 9-million South Africans. They are both a major customer of the automotive industry and a major enabler of subsequent economic activity.

“The local assembly of our people movers are one of the first fruits of the South African government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP2) and the upcoming Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP),” Van Zyl said.

“These plans seek to further develop the automotive and general manufacturing sectors by emphasising local manufacturing, local part sourcing and local employment and personnel development.”

SAinfo reporter