Toyota South Africa Motors on Monday started full production of the new Toyota Corolla - the 11th generation of the world's best-selling car - following a R1-billion investment in its Prospecton manufacturing plant in Durban.
Toyota South Africa Motors CEO Johan van Zyl said the company's R1-billion investment was the second to be announced in the current phase of a capital expansion programme that started with a R363-million new parts distribution centre in Gauteng province in 2012.
This followed a R8-billion investment programme that was completed in 2008 and that saw Toyota's local production capacity increase to 220 000 units. In December, the company celebrated the production of its 1-millionth South African produced Corolla.
"It is hard to believe that a mere two generations of the Corolla ago we were a manufacturing operation with South Africa as our sole market," Van Zyl said in a statement. "Today the Corolla, a good example of leading-edge technology, is manufactured in high volumes for both the local and the export markets."
The new Corolla will be built in both left- and right-hand drive variants for the local and sub-Saharan Africa export markets.
Van Zyl said the South African automotive industry's transformation from local manufacturing and assembly operations to globally focussed manufacturing facilities was due in large part to the successful implementation of the government's Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP), which was designed to encourage high-volume local manufacturing and export programmes.
"The environment created by the MIDP, and subsequently the challenges posed by the new Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP), allows vehicle manufacturing facilities to invest in long-term projects that have long investment horizons," he said.
"The decision to invest in the production of the new Toyota Corolla was one taken well in advance of the start of production and one that considered the future economic prospects of South Africa and that of major Corolla export markets.
"We believe that despite the current economic slowdown and currency pressures, the South African built Corolla will prove to be a good long-term investment."