Toyota SA to boost hybrid production as BEVs deemed not yet practical 

Image of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) Africa region CEO Toshimitsu Imai.

Toshimitsu Imai

10th May 2023

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) are “the most practical solution for carbon neutrality in Africa”, says Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) Africa region CEO Toshimitsu Imai.

This is also true for South Africa, he notes, as the “main energy source is still fossil fuels and the electricity supply is not stable”.

“Therefore, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are not a practical solution yet.”

HEVs do not “take electricity from the grid, they can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40%, make use of existing petrol stations, and are more affordable than BEVs”, explains Imai.

Based on these tenets, Toyota says its local subsidiary, Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), will focus on promoting HEVs in the domestic market, instead of BEVs, by introducing products in both the Toyota and Lexus stables. 

From a local production point of view, TSAM will expand assembly volumes of Corolla Cross hybrid derivatives at its Durban plant, notes Imai.

Hybrid sales currently make up 3% of TSAM sales in South Africa.

The goal, however, is to increase new-energy vehicle sales to 22 000 units (10%) by 2025, and 54 000 units (20%) of sales by 2030. 

Such measures will ensure a carbon dioxide reduction in line with TMC’s global carbon-neutral initiatives. 

A gradual introduction of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), fuel-cell electric vehicles and BEVs into South Africa and the rest of Africa will follow at a later stage, says Imai.

Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC) Africa region COO Shinichiro Otsuka adds that Toyota will, in Africa, also focus on vehicles that “protect people’s lifelines”, such as the Hilux and Land Cruiser ranges, as well as affordable entry-level cars.

“As part of TTC’s Industrialisation-in-Africa pillar, Durban will be positioned as a mother factory to the rest of the continent, where parts and vehicle distribution can be further expanded into sub-Saharan Africa.”

TSAM recently hosted Otsuka and Imai at its Durban production complex, following the organisational changes and policy announcements enacted by new TMC president Koji Sato in April.

These plans includes accelerating BEV expansion worldwide, with the goal to launch ten new BEV models by 2026.

For PHEVs, Toyota will aim to increase battery efficiency to extend the electric driving range beyond 200 km, which will enable the company to reposition PHEVs as “practical BEVs”. 

Regarding HEVs, Toyota says it will continue to improve its product offering, with a focus on quality and affordability.

The Japanese vehicle manufacturer will also pursue the production of commercial vehicles powered by hydrogen.

Toyota has also already begun work in Japan and Thailand on using hydrogen made from water, disposed foods and other waste, as well as carbon-neutral fuels made from biomass and other resources.


Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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