After 44 years in South Africa, Toyota continues to look bright

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After 44 years in South Africa, Toyota continues to look bright

Prashirwin Naidu

The competition should consider more creative ways to knock the numero uno Japanese carmaker off its perch in this country. 

The State of the Motoring Industry (SOMI) '24 gave another glimpse of why Toyota have an iron-like grip on the hearts and minds of car lovers. 

To borrow their slogan, Toyota continues to lead the way. Ominously, they reflected on the past but showed many models heralding big future things. 

Held annually at Kyalami, the programme flowed with severe facts and figures and some laughter. It was brilliantly held together by that darling Devi Sankari Govender, whose name is synonymous with Toyota and SOMI. She has been holding the microphone at SOMI for many a year now. 

Sketching the industry picture, Andrew Kirby, TSAM's president and CEO, emphasised the Japanese brands' unique selling point as they potentially continue their domination.

It's all about trust built over more than four decades. Everything keeps going right, Toyota. It's another familiar slogan to back up their claims. 

Kirby admitted that a few negative factors almost prevented Toyota from reaching its goals. 

Of course, the challenges faced were none other than the dreaded repo rate at 8,5% in 2023, the depreciating rand, which was said to be 13% down on the dollar last year, a record-shattering 332 days without lights thanks to Eskom's load shedding, and a five-week backlog at the country's ports.

Kirby clarified that these hindrances affected the GDP, weakening business confidence too.

The first quarter of 2023 was a mere taster and early celebration. But it didn't translate into long-term success for the brand. They jumped the gun. The industry was on track to achieve the 570,000 predictions made by Toyota at SOMI '23.

But sales slumped, ending in 532,098 units for the year, which is still an improvement compared to 2022. 

Bouncing back, nevertheless, Toyota ran the game and played a significant role in the competitive car market. The brand strengthened its grip on the local market by opening it with new entrants and all-new passenger brands, three in LCV and two in commercial. 

B and Sub-B segments were the most popular, with 12 new variants posing as an affordable end of the market, five in Double Cab and 29 in the Extra Heavy commercial vehicle space-impressive. The latter is directly attributable to the logistical issues facing South Africa, particularly in rail transport.

Kirby recently shared data about the origins of imported car models. India and China are leading in this area. Specifically, India's share of passenger car sales in the nation has risen from 28% in 2022 to 42%. Meanwhile, China has seen its import market share jump from 3% to 9%. The model offerings from these countries have expanded, with India increasing its models from 34 to 44 and China from 10 to 15.

Senior Vice President for Sales And Marketing Leon Theron announced that a few new vehicles would come in 2024. They were on show and included the likes of the Land Cruiser 70 series, Land Cruiser Prado, Toyota Hilux 48V, a mild hybrid variant, Hino 300series Hybrid, Toyota bZ4X, Lexus RZ and Hilux GR S. Formidable!

The show was rounded by a few reports from the Dakar team, which offered a taste into what transpired in the hot sub-Saharan desert. 

Echoing global patterns, South Africa has seen a surge in the demand for new energy vehicles (NEVs), with sales growing by 65% in 2023. However, the overall figures remain modest at 7,693 cars sold. Hybrid models are the predominant choice, making up 84% of NEV sales.

Discussing Toyota's Sales Performance, Leon Theron highlighted that despite broader market challenges, Toyota concluded the year with a notable achievement. The company sold 142,612 units, marking its highest sales volume since 2007 and securing the best market share. Toyota prides itself on long-standing for 44 years, being trustable in its products and maintaining a presence in nearly every segment of the new vehicle market.

Given its topicality, Theron focused on Toyota's dominance in the New Energy Vehicle (NEV) space:

-Toyota's overall share is 53%, showing a 22% increase in NEV volume sales over 2022

-The Corolla Cross Hybrid makes up the lion's share of Toyota NEV sales (55%). Lexus NEV volumes made up for a record 42,5% of total Lexus sales in '23

 Andrew Kirby's Sales Forecast for 2024:

Total Sales – 540,000 (slightly up from SA's 2023 total of 532,098)

Passenger – 355,871

LCV – 152,827

Other – 31,301

There will be pitfalls and economic challenges in an election year, but the future looks bright for Toyota. 

What's coming in the year ahead from Toyota:

Land Cruiser 70 Series 

- Launching February 2024

- Classic facelift (single cab, double cab and station wagon)

- 2.8 GD-6 powerplant

Land Cruiser Prado

- Launching April 2024

- Modular design – easy to replace parts if damaged off-roading

- 2.8 GD-6 engine

Toyota Hilux 48V

- Launching March 2024

- 48-volt mild-hybrid electric package

- Adds 12kW of power and 65Nm of torque through the motor generator to the engine

Hino 300 Series Hybrid

- Launching November 2024 

- 4-litre Common-Rail Turbo (Euro6 with Diesel Particulate Reduction and Selective Catalytic Reduction)

 - Electric motor directly coupled to a 6-speed auto box

 Toyota bZ4X

Launching '25 – either this model or a related model in the BZ family (Beyond Zero)

 - 1st BEV from Toyota

 - Based on Toyota's eTNGA platform, a dedicated BEV platform

 - Striking styling, with lots of angles, features unusual dark contrast fenders for visual drama

 Lexus RZ

- Launching Lexus RZ early in 2025

- Brisk performer offering 150kW to front wheels and 80kW to rear

- Lexus pioneered advanced Steer by Wire tech (available either at launch or shortly after that)

Hilux GR S III

- Launching March 2024

- Face is 'grafted' from the iconic Tundra with customised Dakar-bred styling

- "Wide-Tread" body, i.e. more comprehensive than normal Hilux




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