Normality returns to Toyota’s Prospecton Plant

Toyota SA Motors (TSAM) has restarted its production facility with a formal line-off ceremony in Prospecton on Tuesday, 16 August – four months after severe floods decimated the plant.

LFP 0922

The reopening ceremony was hosted at the plant and attended by TSAM top brass as well as the newly elected Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, and Siboniso Duma, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

TSAM was enjoying a healthy market share of 30% – on average – before its production plant in Durban was submerged in water following the devastating April floods that engulfed parts of KwaZulu-Natal. The floods immediately put TSAM on the back foot, with its market share shrinking to 17%, 18.1% and 16.3% in the months of May, June and July respectively. Despite this, Toyota held on to its number-one position in sales.

TSAM’s Prospecton Plant produces the Corolla Cross and Quest as well as segment leaders Hilux, Hiace Ses’fikile and Fortuner – while also assembling a variety of Hino commercial vehicles. All the other production lines have resumed production with the exception of the Corolla Quest, which is due to commence on 17 August.

“We communicated with Japan (Toyota Motor Corporation) on the night of the 12th of April; I very quickly got a message back of support and an offer from them to do whatever they could to help. They dispatched a large group of experts to support us, helping us to repair, identify, diagnose and replace damaged installations and then communicating with suppliers all over the world to source replacement parts,” says President and CEO of TSAM, Andrew Kirby.

Andrew Kirby at the reopening of the Toyota Prospecton manufacturing facility.

The process on the way to the plant’s full recovery has been long, with pre-flood levels forecast to be achieved in December. Prior to the floods, operations at the Prospecton Plant were halted owing to COVID-19-induced lockdowns in 2020 as well as the civil unrest that brought most businesses to their knees in 2021.

“Despite these challenges, there was no impact at all on Toyota’s long-term future in South Africa. The commitment to rebuild this site has been incredible. We know that our recovery will not be smooth, but by next year, we plan to be stronger and better than we were before.

“TSAM’s operations at Prospecton will in fact be better, and we plan to use this crisis to try and improve our equipment and upgrade where we can. In fact, we’ve created an internal slogan for our recovery called Rebuilding Better Together. This speaks to how we all work together as one team to find a way of renewing and improving our site at the same time,” says Kirby.

The internal slogan also came through during the tour of the plant, where various presenters recalled the extent of the damage in their areas and how recovery processes were carried out to ensure that the plant will not be susceptible to similar devastation in future. It also became clear that while there were more 4 000 vehicles damaged on site during the floods, the costliest damage was to the plant infrastructure itself – including robots and other machines.

In fact, as Kirby referenced one of his colleagues: “There was not a single square metre of the entire 87 hectares facility that was not affected. In fact, it would have been easier to just build a new plant.”

Before introducing KZN Premier Dube-Ncube on the podium, MEC Duma said: “The reopening of the plant is not only good news for Toyota South Africa, but also for the economy of the province. This also shows Toyota’s commitment to investing in the province of KZN as well as the local automotive industry.”

Kirby agreed that there was scope for TSAM to further bolster the already strong collaborations with the government of KZN. This was also echoed by Premier Dube-Ncube who commented that she would encourage her provincial colleagues to make Toyota the vehicle of choice for her government.

More Industry News stories

LDV expansion opens more opportunities for dealers

LDV expansion opens more opportunities for dealers

With their second and third shipments on their way, the newly introduced LDV already has vehicles ready for their first customers. The company is also well on its way to establishing a dealer network across the country and still has availability for dealerships in certain areas.

  • 17 April 2024
Nissan Navaras arrive in Zimbabwe

Nissan Navaras arrive in Zimbabwe

Nissan Zimbabwe spokesperson, Lucas Taruvinga, Amtec Motors CEO, has welcomed the Nissan Daring Africa 2024 expedition team to Zimbabwe. The crew, in their four Nissan Navaras and X-Trail support vehicle, are well into their eight-country odyssey across Africa.

  • 17 April 2024