Flooding affects Toyota production

Supplies of new locally produced Toyota vehicles to the brand's dealer network are expected to be negatively impacted by the floods in KwaZulu-Natal.

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The flooding has forced Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) to suspend all production at its plant in Prospecton, south of Durban. Some automotive component suppliers have also been affected by the floods, with an unknown number suspending production.

However, the extent of the disruption to production and to supplies of new vehicles from Toyota SA’s plant is not yet known.

The flooding at the Toyota manufacturing facility in Prospecton, Durban. Pictures supplied by MISA.

TSAM confirmed in a brief statement issued on Wednesday that its production plant at Prospecton incurred some flooding in areas owing to the heavy rains in KwaZulu-Natal.

“TSAM’s operations have therefore been suspended since Monday evening while efforts geared towards a safe start-up (after water has been cleared) are in place,” it said.

TSAM was not prepared to officially comment on when production was likely to resume at the plant or what damage, if any, has been caused to newly produced vehicles in its vehicle stockyard at the plant.

Photographs of flooding at Toyota SA’s plant released by the Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA) showed production areas and the new vehicle stockyard under water.

The Prospecton plant produces the Hilux, Corolla Cross, Quest, Fortuner and Sesfikile.

Renai Moothilal, executive director of the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (Naacam), confirmed that some automotive component manufacturers have also suspended production because of flooding but he was unable to name the specific suppliers affected.

The flooding at the Toyota manufacturing facility in Prospecton, Durban. Pictures supplied by MISA.

Moothilal said the suspension of production by these suppliers was caused by shop floor level damage, the inability of staff to get to work because of transport issues and reduced demand for component supplies because of the suspension of production at Toyota SA’s plant.

The latest disruption to new vehicle supplies follows shortages of certain models of all vehicle brands because of the semiconductor shortages and supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.

The fact that Toyota is the domestic market’s new vehicle sales leader has increased dealers’ concerns.

The National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) was not prepared to speculate about the impact on dealers of the flooding and suspension of production at Toyota SA's plant because of a lack of information apart from Toyota SA’s brief comment.

However, Martlé Keyter, CEO of the Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA), expressed concern about possible further retrenchments in vehicle dealerships because of the suspension of production by Toyota SA.

Keyter said the flooding could not have struck the retail motor industry at a worse time.

She said MISA is devastated by the impact it will have on the retail motor industry, which is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The motor retail industry can’t afford more retrenchments with the unemployment rate at 35.3%.

“MISA’s more than 53 000 members depend on motor vehicle and component sales, vehicle services and repair work,” she said.

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