3 December 2007
Toyota South Africa has joined forces with Barloworld Automotive and long-time Soweto entrepreneur Richard Maponya’s Maponya Group to establish the first Toyota dealership in the country’s largest township and take advantage of the rising disposable income of its residents.
“We have long sought a franchise outlet in this important and burgeoning market,” Toyota South Africa chief executive Johan van Zyl said in a statement last week.
“Soweto has been a long standing ‘open point’ in our dealer network. As the vehicle market has expanded in recent years, the urgency to fill this point with a viable dealership has grown.”
Van Zyl said that it was necessary for his company to take its products closer to key markets, so that it could continue to maintain its position as the market leader in the country. The envisaged development will be a world-class fully-fledged Toyota dealership with the latest corporate identity.
“We commend Toyota SA for taking the bold step and showing confidence in the market by awarding this opportunity in Soweto,” Maponya said.
According to the statement, the Maponya Group, the largest independent employer in Soweto, is a successful black business organisation with interests in food retailing, fuel retailing, and property development.
In September, the Maponya Group opened a R650-million shopping mall in Soweto with Pick ‘n Pay, Woolworths, and Edgars as anchor tenants. Future projects include a 100 000-square metre Motor City investment, of which the Toyota dealership forms the first stage.
A study commissioned by the City of Johannesburg’s economic development unit in 2003 found that the township’s residents had disposable income of about R4.3-billion, of which R3.4-billion was spent outside the township.
Toyota said it was therefore unfathomable that Soweto did not have a motor dealership while statistics indicated that the car population of Soweto was growing at an increasing rate.
“This opportunity will again create jobs and bring investment into Soweto,” Maponya said. “More importantly, the people of Soweto will now be able to purchase vehicles and get quality after-sales service right at their doorstep.
“This will undoubtedly add to the changing face of Soweto.”