The State of the Motor Industry (SOMI) event, which was hosted by Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), was the perfect place to get a sneak peek at the automaker’s design philosophy, corporate goals, and product and motorsport plans for 2023.

President and CEO of TSAM Andrew Kirby and his colleagues get the opportunity to talk about the local automotive industry’s affairs, its socioeconomic environment, as well as current trends in the industry on a regular basis at SOMI.

Simon Humphries, Head of Toyota and Lexus Global Design, said during the event that the auto industry has basically spent the last 100 years adhering to a tried-and-true formula.
“An unprecedented moment of instability is currently occurring.”

“Once we formerly had just one engine, we now have five; we once lived in isolation, but now we are linked; and where privately owned cars dominated ownership, sharing is starting to gain traction. Previously, the driver was the only thing that mattered when operating a car, but nowadays we are supported more and more, and where there was only steel before, modern materials and production processes enable us to construct practically everything we can think. Simply put, there is a paradigm change happening in almost every area that affects design.”

According to Andrew Kirby, president and chief executive officer of TSAM, 570 000 cars will be sold in South Africa this year, comprising 33 041 other vehicles and 375 642 light commercial vehicles (LCVs). “We arrived at this assessment based on how we perceive the market and what Toyota is physically able to deliver. I must emphasize that we would actually be projecting a 580 000 market if stock restrictions weren’t a serious problem.

In 2017, Kirby predicted that 540 000 automobiles would be sold in South Africa overall in 2022. However, a completely unanticipated obstacle materialized in the form of the April floods, which forced Toyota’s Prospecton Plant in Durban to completely halt operations for three months. The inability of Toyota to meet its goals as a result of this, along with the already widely reported shipping delays at the Durban port, seriously affected the entire sector. In 2022, 528 963 units were sold in total.

Toyota’s carbon neutral marketing was another topic that was high on the SOMI agenda. “Toyota takes a holistic approach to carbon neutrality, which means the corporation treats carbon from a lifecycle assessment viewpoint where carbon emissions are dealt across the value chain; not only targeting the final product, which is a vehicle with zero emissions,” Kirby said. This touches on a variety of topics, such as how we build automobiles, what powertrains we put in them, how we market them, and even how we get rid of them after their useful lives.

Furthermore, Toyota asserts that it would like to explore all options rather than rely solely on battery electric vehicles (BEVs) to help the world reach its carbon neutrality goals. Toyota’s strategy is to create vehicles that cater to consumers’ actual demands.

“BEVs are the solution for some markets, but for others, like ours, we must acknowledge that we can fully implement this technology if our infrastructure can handle them at scale. We must acknowledge that many of these NEV technologies are not now scalable in SA. We have a very little charging grid, to begin with (just 267 charging stations throughout the country – and mostly concentrated in your metro areas). You can understand why a one-size-fits-all approach is currently impractical when you combine that with the stark energy crisis we are facing, says Kirby.

Toyota thinks that hybrid technology still has a significant part to play in the fight against climate change. According to Toyota’s recently revealed data, three hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) may reduce CO2 at the same rate as one BEV. Locally, Toyota has acknowledged that as part of its 2022 product roll-out goal, at least 20% of the cars sold in South Africa by that year must be New Energy Vehicles.

Operatingly, TSAM is on track to achieve carbon neutrality for its Durban production facility by 2035. The organization is pleased to announce that the Hino Plant in Durban is already off the grid and that the Atlas Warehouse is on schedule to achieve that goal by 2025. The organization’s goal is to be able to generate 100% renewable energy electricity by 2028.

In spite of operating in the local automotive market for 60 years, Toyota is still South Africa’s favorite brand, according to TSAM Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Leon Theron. Toyota (including the Lexus and Hino brands) overcame a variety of retail obstacles to register 132 035 new vehicles, marking the company’s 43rd consecutive year as the market leader. For 2022, this equals a market share of 24.9%.

“Despite our difficulties, we managed to keep a market share that was relatively comparable to 2021 (25%). “Of course, if it weren’t for the production delays brought on by the flooding at our Durban factory, our share would have been higher,” adds Theron.


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