In what has been heralded a truly historic occasion Toyota South Africa Motors, the well-known Maponya family and Barloworld Automotive yesterday celebrated the opening of Soweto Toyota at a gala function at the new facility.
The celebrations were the culmination of a long planning period, an even longer relationship between Dr Maponya and the erstwhile Dr Albert Wessels, founder of Toyota South Africa, and have been described as a milestone in the development of Soweto.
The new dealership was officially opened by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who is the acting head of state while President Jacob Zuma attends to international business. During the proceedings the guests were also addressed by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, famed Dr Richard Maponya and Dr Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors. As a special treat guests and dignitaries were treated to a performance by the acclaimed Imilonji choir.
Soweto Toyota, which opened for business in December 2011, represents a R40 million investment in Soweto and will be a cornerstone of a planned new 8 000m2 Motor City development envisioned by Dr Maponya and the Maponya-family.
Designed to represent Toyota’s world class “New Retail Concept”, the new facility is fully equipped to offer new and used vehicles, parts and comprehensive servicing. It has been designed in a modular fashion to allow for further expansion as the dealership grows its business, but it already boasts the capacity to retail 30 new and 25 Automark approved used vehicles per month.
“When we celebrated the sod turning on this investment in July last year we spoke of the privilege of working with Dr Maponya and his family, the importance of Soweto as a growing economic hub and home to more than 5 million people and of Toyota’s commitment to further development in South Africa,” says Dr Van Zyl.
“Today we would like to put the challenge to other vehicle manufacturers and related business in the automotive industry to follow our lead and invest in Soweto and in Dr Maponya’s planned Motor City.”