Toyota South Africa Motors today celebrates an important milestone with the official opening of the Toyota Ses’fikile assembly line at its world class production plant in Prospecton, Durban.

Toyota Ses-Fikile

The official function was attended by senior executives from Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), the Department of Trade and Industry, the South Africa National Taxi Association, the Province of KwaZulu-Natal and the City of Durban and signals the finalisation of long and fruitful discussions between TSAM, TMC and the South African government.

At the official opening function TSAM announced the local assembly of the Ses’fikile taxi on a dedicated line at its production plant in Prospecton, Durban. The line represents an initial investment of R70 million and it has created 90 new jobs in the start-up phase. Adding to this figure is a further 210 new positions created in up- and downstream suppliers and service providers to support this initiative.

 “The local taxi industry is a very important part of the daily lives of more than 9 million South Africans. They are both a major customer of the automotive industry and a major enabler of subsequent economic activity,” says Dr Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of TSAM and a Managing Officer of TMC.

“Not only is the Ses’fikile an important cog in the national taxi industry, but it is also a major volume seller for Toyota in South Africa. With this in mind it makes economic sense to localise the assembly of this product and reap the benefits of increased investment, job creation and possible downstream supplier development,” says Dr Van Zyl.

The Ses’fikile will join the local production of the Toyota Hilux, Fortuner and Corolla model ranges which are manufactured and the whole range of Hino trucks, which are assembled and with which the Ses’fikile will share certain resources. With the addition of these product lines Toyota has strengthened its position as South Africa’s largest vehicle manufacturer and exporter. Locally manufactured models are currently exported to 57 countries and the Ses’fikile and Hino-ranges are exported to Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

“The local assembly of our people movers are one of the first fruits of the South African government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP2) and the upcoming Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP). These plans seek to further develop the automotive and general manufacturing sectors by emphasising local manufacturing, local part sourcing and local employment and personnel development,” says Dr Van Zyl.

Phase 1 of the localisation programme saw the Ses’fikile assembled in the new line in Prospecton. The first locally assembled units reached dealers in May 2012 and feature various improvements, including the addition of an extra seat to increase total capacity to 16 seats, which has been welcomed as a major boon for taxi operator profitability.

Once the first phase has been completed Toyota will have the ability to deliver up to 15 000 Ses’fikile units to the Southern African market. Initial production volumes are estimated at 10 000 units.

As further phase TSAM will motivate to its parent company TMC for the full local production of the Ses’fikile. This decision is dependent on the achievement of various volume, regulatory and quality targets.