TASM, does however, have some more positive news in that it has resumed operations of its export line of catalytic converters and “in the next few days” will open the Hino truck assembly line.
However, TASM said it will take some time for the main lines, such as Hilux, Fortuner, Hiace, Corolla Cross and Corolla Quest, to reopen.
Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of TSAM, says the organisation is implementing a careful and systematic phased plan to return the facility to working condition.
However, Kirby admits they are at a point where it is not easy to predict when they will be able to start-up. Production at the plant has been suspended since 11 April 2022.
Kirby acknowledges that the damage and disruption to production at the plant has been a tremendous setback for the company but it has extensive insurance coverage and is also fortunate that its parent company, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), is supporting them with all the cash flow challenges they are likely to encounter.
He says Toyota global President, Akio Toyoda, has sent close to 60 top specialists and engineers from Japan to support the recovery of the TSAM plant.
“We’ve created an internal slogan for our recovery called ‘Rebuilding Better Together’. This talks to how we all work together as one team to find a way of renewing and improving our site at the same time.
“We’ve been through the process of cleaning, drying and flushing. And now, we are checking all our equipment – repairing, powering up the control panels and having to order replacement parts where necessary,” he says.
TSAM reckons that its production facility’s flood-protection measures had been effective up to a point and will be reinstated and improved even further and it is also working closely with the City of eThekwini to address some of the infrastructural shortfalls in the area to prevent a recurrence of a similar disaster in the future.
TSAM earlier responded to and clarified two important issues following a number of factually incorrect social media posts.
It stressed that all the vehicles that incurred damage during the flood will be scrapped and crushed to ensure that no potentially compromised Toyotas will ever make it into the retail chain.
The company reiterated that about 12% of the 4 596 completely built-up units (CBUs) on site had no damage at all and can be sold.
TSAM also confirmed that none of the TSAM employees will lose their job,s and employees will receive support from the company throughout the process.
TSAM’s Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, Leon Theron, emphasised that Toyota customers remained a priority.
“We are constantly communicating with customers whose vehicle deliveries have been impacted by the floods, and we are truly appreciative of their patience to date.
“With regard to CBUs, it’s business as usual. In fact, we have been able to negotiate additional supply despite global shortages. So, we will have extra units to compensate for the temporary lack of availability on locally built models,” he said.