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Most people think Toyota SA's most definitively South African offering - the Ses'fikile minibus taxi - is an entirely home-grown product. But, in fact, until recently every Ses'fikile on our roads has arrived, fully assembled, from the Quantum production line in Japan.
Not any more.
After investing R70 million on a new production line, the Toyota plant at Prospection in Durban is now assembling the Ses'fikile alongside its existing Hilux, Fortuner and Corolla ranges.
The new line has created 90 new jobs, says Toyota, with another 210 among Toyota's local suppliers and at service providers.
The first locally-assembled units reached dealers in May 2012, including some local 'upgrades' - among them an extra seat to increase capacity to 16, which has been welcomed by local taxi operators.
“The taxi industry is an important part of the daily lives of more than nine million South Africans.”
Toyota SA president Dr Johan van Zyl said at the official opening of the new production line: “Taxi operaters are a major customer of the automotive industry and an entire service industry has arisen around them.
“The Ses'fikile is not only an important cog in the national taxi industry, it's also a major seller for Toyota in South Africa, so it makes sense to assemble them here and benefit from increased investment and job creation.
Toyota estimates that initial production volume will be about 10 000 a year and, once the first phase has been completed, it will have the capacity to deliver up to 15 000 Ses'fikile minibuses a year throughout Southern Africa.
And when that happens Toyota SA intends to lobby the parent company to allow full local production of the Ses'fikile.