Big Toyota investments proceeding, despite Covid-19

18th September 2020 By: Irma Venter - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Toyota Motors South Africa (TSAM) is going ahead with its three big investment projects, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, says TSAM president and CEO Andrew Kirby.

“Largely, we have been able to protect and secure all of our big projects that were originally planned in 2019, despite the fact that we are going through this very tough environment at the moment.

“When the lockdown started, we had to make some decisions around how to structure our business for this new environment. But we also made sure that we didn’t impact too significantly any of the big projects that we thought were fundamental to growing our business and establishing a secure and sustainable future.”

Kirby says the R365-million investment in the expansion of TSAM’s Kempton Park parts warehouse has experienced a slight delay, owing to the construction industry shutting down over the previous lockdown periods.

“We are on track go live [around] the middle of next year.”

The second big project at TSAM, valued at R454-million, is to increase the production volume of the Hiace Ses’fikile minibus at the company’s Durban plant.

“We know that this market next year will be a little bit subdued, compared with our original forecast, but we are going ahead with that installation and we’ll be able to start production in the middle of November this year,” says Kirby.

The good news is that TSAM’s biggest project, at R2.5-billion, also still has the green light.

This project will see TSAM replace Corolla production with another passenger-car model.

“So far, I am very pleased that we are not delaying the start of production at all.”

Kirby said the project did experience some “significant challenges”, especially during the initial months of lockdown, as the company had sourced tooling from China which had difficulty in finding its way to South Africa.

A similar challenge was that TSAM needed hands-on specialists from abroad to assist with the installation of some advanced technologies at the Prospecton plant.

The company worked to offset international travel restrictions by resorting to virtual solutions, but still requires the team to travel to South Africa.

“As long as we can have that team here by December, January, we should be on track to launch that vehicle in the fourth quarter of 2021,” says Kirby.