Minibus taxis. Picture: SOWETAN
Minibus taxis. Picture: SOWETAN

Toyota SA on Friday announced a R454m investment in the production of the Hiace Ses'fikile minibus vehicle in Durban.

The vehicle mainly services SA's R90bn turnover taxi industry, which caters for approximately 15-million daily commuters. It employs approximately 600,000 people.

The investment, which entails the expansion of the existing production facility, takes Toyota's investment in Hiace since 2012 to more than R1bn.

Speaking at the launch of the expanded facility, trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel said the automotive industry should prioritise local production of vehicles in line with the automotive master plan, which the government unveiled in 2018.

The master plan seeks to achieve 1% of global vehicle production by 2035, which will increase production from 600,000 to almost 1.4-million units per year. The plan also gives the industry a target to hike local content from the current 39% to 60%. 

“Localisation must be a driver of development and opportunity. There must be a wider development agenda. We must deepen localisation. Localisation builds a country's manufacturing footprint,” Patel said.

Kwazulu-Natal MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube said plans were under way to develop an automotive supplier park south of Durban.

Dube-Ncube said the environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the site had been completed. She said the provincial government would ensure that local communities benefited from the supplier park.

Toyota also announced a R19.6bn investment to supply semi-knocked down vehicles to Kenya. The kits, according to Toyota SA CEO Andrew Kirby, would be assembled in the East African country.