Toyota sales rise, eyes SA expansion


Durban - Motor giant Toyota South Africa, which has its manufacturing hub in Durban, announced last week that it had increased local market share for the third consecutive year and retained its position as market leader for the 34th year in South Africa.

This was despite industrial action and other production disruptions in the car industry that “muted full-year growth”, it said.

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An aerial view of Toyota South Africa Motors’ massive Prospecton manufacturing hub in South Durban. The plant is set for further major investment this year with production set to start on the new generation Toyota Corolla.

“Toyota South Africa Motors ended a tough 2013 as South Africa's best-selling vehicle brand, after selling 9 881 vehicles last month. This means that Toyota delivered 126 749 Toyota, Lexus and Hino vehicles to customers last year, representing a total of 19.5 percent of the overall market,” it added.

“We remain humbled by the success of the Toyota brand,” said Calvyn Hamman, senior vice-president of sales and marketing.

Toyota said its sales grew by 4.5 percent last year, compared to the overall increase in vehicle sales of 3.2 percent. Total vehicle sales were recorded at 650 620, making it the best year since 2007. The growth rate has however declined from 16.1 percent in 2011 and 9 percent in 2012 to 3.2 percent. This is also below the industry growth expectation of between 7 and 10 percent.

“The industry expected a bigger sales increase, based on the low interest rate environment, the delayed replacement cycle of vehicles after sales peaked in 2006, extremely high levels of new vehicle introductions and retail marketing,” said Hamman.

“Unfortunately the various strikes in the automotive and component industries, followed by staff strikes in the vehicle delivery industry, disrupted sales for more than two months. The subsequent shortage of certain high-volume models dampened the year's local sales and export performance,” he said.

“One should always evaluate December vehicle sales in conjunction with January sales, as many customers and dealers withhold vehicle registrations in December in order to record the new model year on the vehicle's registration.”

Hamman expects low single-digit sales growth this year, while vehicle exports are expected to grow significantly.

Toyota South Africa exported 9 670 vehicles to more than 58 countries last month.

Commercial vehicle sales showed a better growth rate than light commercial and passenger vehicles, reaching a total sales figure of 30 946 last year.

“It is the first time in seven years we've broken through the 30 000 mark in the medium, heavy and extra-heavy commercial vehicle market,” said Hamman.

“We will keep an eye on commercial vehicle sales in the first quarter of the year to understand if the market will stabilise at these numbers, as some analysts believe, or if the market will grow at the same tempo as the country's GDP growth, as others predict.

“On the local front we expect further pressure on vehicle prices as the rand remains weak against major trading currencies. This will be exacerbated by further pressure on disposable income in 2014,” he said.

Last November, chief executive of Toyota South Africa Motors, Johan van Zyl, hinted at a major investment to be announced this year into its Prospecton plant, south of Durban. The company has been tight-lipped about the value, but it is related to gearing up the plant for the production of its new generation Corolla for South African and export markets.

“The Corolla benefited from our R8 billion investment programme in 2008, which modernised the plant and introduced a state-of-the-art paint plant. With the new Corolla, we hope to start our next round of investment and look forward to sharing this plan when our first new generation Corolla models roll off the line,” Van Zyl said.

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