Japanese automobile giant Toyota is ready to produce its first “hybrid synergy drive” (petrol-electric) car on the African continent at its Prospecton plant in Durban, as part of a R2.5-billion investment in a new production line.
Saying that the investment is “still on track” despite the economic impact of Covid-19 on the local and international markets, Andrew Kirby, CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), confirmed this on Tuesday.
His comments follow Ebrahim Patel, minister of trade, industry & competition, revealing during the department’s budget vote that Toyota “will build Africa’s first hybrid vehicle in South Africa within 18 months”.
Patel noted that Toyota’s plan is in line with “tectonic shifts in economies towards greener industries”.
Kirby said a hybrid version is included in Toyota’s plans for “the yet-to-be revealed model” that will go into production in late 2021 at its expansive Durban plant. He pointed out that while it will be Toyota’s first hybrid car to be manufactured on the continent, Mercedes-Benz South Africa has produced the hybrid C-Class model at its East London plant.
“Our new Toyota model, including a hybrid version, will replace the Corolla sedan production line at our Durban factory, which came to an end earlier this year. We are still producing the Corolla Quest locally,” said Kirby.
“I cannot mention the name of the latest Toyota model that will go into production in South Africa next year, but what I can tell you is that it is not going to be a sedan,” he added.