Toyota South Africa squashes rumours of KZN exit in wake of election result

Toyota says it remains committed to its Prospecton plant. Picture: Supplied.

Toyota says it remains committed to its Prospecton plant. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jun 10, 2024


Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) says it remained committed to its local manufacturing base in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) despite having faced numerous challenges in the past few years.

Following the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party’s surprise performance in the recent elections, where it gained over 45% of the KZN vote, there have been rumours that TSAM is considering moving its local manufacturing base to another province, such as the Eastern Cape.

However Toyota SA’s corporate communications manager Lelo Ndzimela has fervently denied these claims.

“This is just a rumour. Toyota South Africa Motors remains committed to its investment in the community in and around Prospecton, KwaZulu-Natal,” Ndzimela said.

At the time of writing it remained unclear which direction KZN would take in terms of a coalition government for the province, although the MK Party would need to have a much firmer hand in national government to enact any of its nationalisation policies or change the constitution for that matter. The party achieved 14.5% of the national vote.

ALSO READ: Unpacking the ‘Zuma factor’: How the MK party won KZN

Toyota produces five products at its Prospecton plant, including the Corolla Cross. Picture: Supplied.

This is not the first time that rumours of a Toyota SA exit from KZN have surfaced, given the extreme challenges that the carmaker faced following the 2021 riots and catastrophic 2022 floods.

However it begs the question: would TSAM really have invested so extensively in flood-proofing its plant if exiting KZN was a potential option on the horizon?

Following the 2022 floods, which devastated the Prospecton plant and halted production for over four months, the company spent over R236 million on measures to safeguard the plant from future events of this magnitude.

ALSO READ: Toyota South Africa is here to stay, come hell or high water

This saw a wide range of measures being implemented, including canals around the perimeters, upgraded stormwater networks and early warning systems. The manufacturer also lifted vital machinery up to 200mm off the ground in case the aforementioned measures ever failed.

TSAM currently produces the Hilux, Fortuner, Hi-Ace, Corolla Cross and Corolla Quest at the KZN plant, with the Hilux also exported to other markets such as Europe.

IOL Motoring