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Lift-off for SA green vehicle revolution

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TOYOTA has set itself the target of selling more Hybrid Corolla Cross models in South Africa than traditional internal Combustion Engines (ICE) models by 2025, in the process kickstarting mass adoption of New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) in the country.

That’s according to Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), who said the new Corolla Cross production line in Prospecton, Durban would be central to that “very ambitious” goal.

To put this into perspective, in 2020 the local industry only sold 324 NEVs and this year to-date, only 322 have been sold.

“We plan to fundamentally change the NEV landscape in South Africa from a few hundred NEV’s a year to well over 10 000 units per year,” said Kirby.

He was speaking at the recent opening of the new production line, which was attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa and a delegation of public officials, including Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel.

“If you tally up the investments we’ve made in this plant spanning the last five years – of which Corolla Cross accounts for R2.6 billion, we arrive at a cumulative figure of over R6.5 billion,” Kirby said.

“We are therefore committed to further developing and strengthening our business in South Africa and making a difference in the country, our communities, our suppliers, dealers, customers and of course in own employee’s lives.”

The introduction of the Corolla Cross model has generated a total of 575 new jobs at the TSAM plant while over 1200 direct jobs were created in the component supply base.

Another significant focus during the project was to maximise the local content for this model. This resulted in the localisation of 621 parts with 56 local suppliers – 16 of which are Black-owned. TSAM has also onboarded five new Tier-1 suppliers (all Black-owned) and 12 new Tier-2/3 suppliers. The economic contribution with TSAM’s local suppliers for this project is over R1.4 billion per annum.

Ramaphosa said: “I had called upon Japanese carmakers to strengthen their investment in South Africa. A few months later at the second South Africa Investment Conference, Mr Andrew Kirby came up to stage to announce Toyota’s new investment (R2,6 billion)… I am particularly pleased to see that the announcement that was made has led to the creation of so many jobs – a total of 1 775 jobs made through the announcement of the investment [in the Corolla Cross production].”

The new Corolla Cross is based on the Toyota New Global Architecture platform. As of August 2021, 32 Toyota and Lexus models are using this platform and now account for approximately 70% of global Toyota sales.

From a regional marketing perspective, the Corolla Cross is produced in both right- and left-hand drive variants and is also the first model to be produced en masse on the continent. It will be exported to more than 40 countries in Africa.

Kirby said the launch of South Africa’s first locally produced, volume Hybrid Electric Vehicle not only allows many more local customers the opportunity to accelerate their own change to green mobility far quicker than what was previously possible, but also establishes the building blocks for TSAM’s long-term sustainability as a globally competitive exporter.
He added that they would keep pace with the green regulations in their export markets such as the European Union and the United Kingdom.

As a further step towards carbon neutrality, TSAM is investigating ways to eliminate or off-set the balance of its carbon emissions, especially those originating from the use of natural gas in its production processes. The company plans to invest over R2 billion to realise these goals in the next seven years.

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