Toyota’s Durban plant targets pre-flood production levels by December
The company plans to use lessons learnt from the crisis to improve on its operations.
Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) says while the process towards the full recovery of its Durban Prospecton plant “has been long” following the devastating floods in April, it forecasts the plant will be back at “pre-flood” production levels by this December.
The automobile giant officially reopened the plant on Tuesday (16 August). However, most production resumed at the expansive KwaZulu-Natal facility since July, as was reported in Moneyweb last month.
TSAM’s plant was forced to halt production in mid-April, after record torrential rains in Durban and coastal parts of the province caused more than R50 billion in damage to infrastructure, homes, business premises and major manufacturing sites like the Toyota plant.
At the official reopening event on Tuesday that included TSAM boss Andrew Kirby and newly appointed KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube amongst other leaders, the Japanese-owned group confirmed that over 4 000 vehicles were damaged at the plant during the floods.
However, the motor manufacturer said the most expensive damage was to the plant infrastructure itself, including its robotic equipment and other machinery.
Kirby previously told Moneyweb that the damage at the plant is “in the billions”.
TSAM on Tuesday reiterated that its first priority was the safety and welfare of its employees, contractors as well as their families.
“We communicated with Japan, Toyota Motor Corporation, on the night of 12 April. I very quickly got a message back of support and an offer from them to do whatever they could to help,” recollected at the Tuesday reopening ceremony.
“They dispatched a lot of experts to support us, helping us to repair, identify, diagnose and replace and then communicating with suppliers all over the world to source replacement parts,” he added.
TSAM noted that prior to the floods, its operations at the Prospecton plant were interrupted due to Covid-19-induced lockdowns in 2020 and the July civil unrest last year.
Kirby said the interruptions have not affected Toyota’s long-term future in South Africa and that TSAM plans to use the crisis to improve its equipment and upgrade where possible.
“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,” he said.
TSAM noted that it enjoyed a market share of 30%, on average, before its production plant was flooded in April. water.
“This immediately put TSAM on the backfoot, with its market share shrinking to 17%, 18.1% and 16.3% in the months of May, June and July, respectively,” it added.
Despite the dip in market share, TSAM noted that Toyota retained its number-one position in sales.