Photo: ANC / Twitter
Photo: ANC / Twitter
Toyota’s decision to produce the first generation of commercial-scale hybrid electric vehicles in South Africa was a “vote of confidence” in the country.
This was the word from President Cyril Ramaphosa who said he was “delighted” to get behind the wheel of the first Toyota hybrid vehicle to come off the firm’s local assembly line in Durban. Ramaphosa visited Toyota SA’s South Durban premises yesterday together with Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Ebrahim Patel and Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala, Ambassador of Japan, Norio Maruyama,
President and CEO of Toyota South Africa, Andrew Kirby and
Head of Toyota’s operations in Africa, Mr Toshimitsu Imai.
“Japan is a long term and significant investor in South Africa.
There are about 130 Japanese companies operating in South Africa including Nissan, Isuzu and Sumitomo Rubber Industries, among others. The Corolla Cross investment of R 2.6 billion is significant for the South African economy,” Ramaphosa said.
South Africa is one of seven global locations for the production of the Corolla Cross, which will be exported to 40 countries across Africa. The company will seek to ramp up its projected production of 4 000 hybrid vehicles planned for 2022 if battery availability improves.
Following the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal in July this year, Toyota was one of the first companies to affirm their continued commitment and investment in KwaZulu-Natal.
“I appreciate the long view that the Toyota headquarters has taken because it sees the value of the company’s presence in South Africa and the enormous opportunities in the years and decades ahead,” he said.
Ramaphosa thanked the workers of KwaZulu-Natal for building and equipping the plant in time, despite the challenging period and ensuring the Corolla Cross is ready for the launch.
“Workers are often the unsung heroes of daily production and I want to acknowledge the contribution of production workers to making world-class, safe vehicles that we and the rest of the world can drive with confidence,” he said.
The auto industry is one of the drivers of the government’s localisation programme. It is a significant contributor to GDP and accounts for more than 100,000 jobs in assembly and component manufacturing.
“The seven local light vehicle producers invested a record R9.2 billion in 2020 while the component sector invested R2.4 billion during the same period. These investments are made possible by an enabling policy regime in the form of the industry master plan,” Ramaphosa said.
The new version of the master plan, the Automotive Production Development Programme, came into operation in July 2021.
“It provides investors in the automotive sector with policy certainty and confidence in making long term investment decisions. The master plan vision calls for a globally competitive and transformed industry that actively contributes to the sustainable development of South Africa’s productive economy, creating prosperity for industry stakeholders and the broader society,” Ramaphosa said.
He said aim of the master plan was to grow the industry to reach one per cent of global production over a period of 15 years.
We want to double employment, to at least 224,000 jobs,” Ramaphosa said.
With 621 localised parts in the Corolla Cross, the localisation level for the Corolla Cross will be higher than that of the standard Corolla produced here. There are 56 local suppliers of which 16 are black-owned companies.
He said it was fitting that the hybrid vehicle was being launched a week before the COP26 Climate Change Conference.
“We have called on leaders of developed economies to support South Africa’s efforts to green our economy and address our very ambitious climate change goals through equally ambitious grant and concessional funding support. We have identified three key priorities for climate action: for Eskom to reduce its carbon emissions, for electric vehicles to be produced in South Africa, and for the green hydrogen economy to be fast-tracked locally,” Ramaphosa said.
Government published a draft paper for public comment on a roadmap to the production of fully-electric vehicles, which will be taken further based on the discussions with international partners and the local industry.