13 July 2007
Toyota South Africa is to produce Corollas at its Prospecton plant outside Durban specifically for export to the carmaker’s European markets from next year onwards, giving the KwaZulu-Natal economy a major boost.
The decision was taken following a meeting this week in Tokyo, Japan, between provincial officials, led by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele and Toyota representatives led by Toyota Motor Corporation chairperson Katsuhiro Nakagawa.
Nakagawa also announced that about 50 engineers have already been sent to South Africa to help with the manufacturing of the vehicles: “Toyota is determined to produce more vehicles in South Africa which can be exported to other countries.”
“The exporting of vehicles from South Africa to other countries is very important for South Africa’s economy. The automotive industry is also important for the development of South Africa,” he said.
Nakagawa said they also wanted an increased presence in Japanese automotive parts suppliers in South Africa as the country was considered to be the gateway to the rest of Africa.
“We want to make our South African plant more competitive compared to Toyota plants in other countries,” he said.
In a bid to ensure the competitiveness of their South African plant, he acknowledged that the training of workers would be important to achieve this: “If we skill more workers, more automotive parts supplier companies will come to South Africa.”
He explained that they planned to establish a Toyota Training School in South Africa, which would benefit the company’s employees and create a much needed skills base for growth.
“We want to listen to the voice of the workers to be able to produce more vehicles, more efficiently and effectively. Training, development and education of our workforce must be intensified,” Nakagawa said.
The production of the latest model of the Toyota Corolla in South Africa is currently proceeding well and will be launched in August this year.
“However, we are trying hard to introduce new models of Toyota to be produced is South Africa as well,” he said.
Premier Ndebele appreciated the confidence shown by the company to South Africa, particularly KwaZulu-Natal, adding they would welcome the development of an automotive supplier park in the province.
“We appreciate the new investment of more than R4-billion at the plant at Prospecton in Durban. However, we would like to see Toyota producing other automotive components in KwaZulu-Natal as well,” he said.
He added it was important to accelerate training of the current and future workforce.
“Continuous training is very important. We have to train all the time. For the market in South Africa, the market in Africa and the market elsewhere, training is important.”