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LOOKING AHEAD

TOYOTA’S VIEW ON STATE OF THE MOTOR INDUSTRY

Last month, Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) hosted the seventh instalment of the popular State of the Motor Industry (SOMI) event at Kyalami, highlighting key achievements from 2023 and projecting the industry’s future in 2024.

Each year, Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) stages a multi-layered activation – the State of the Motor Industry (SOMI) – as a platform for TSAM’s President and CEO, Andrew Kirby, to sketch the true state of the motor industry from the unique vantage point of the country’s largest automotive brand. As before, SOMI was also an opportunity for Leon Theron, TSAM’s Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing, to showcase several all-new models from the stable’s various brands. A surprise element in the form of the 2024 Dakar Press Conference (read our first-hand account of this year’s race on page 16) was added to the programme. 

THE YEAR THAT WAS

Citing monetary and structural challenges such as an elevated repo rate (8.5% by the end of the year), depreciating Rand (13% down on the US Dollar), a record-breaking 332 days with load shedding, and up to a five-week backlog at the country’s ports, Kirby made clear that this negatively impacted GDP and therefore also business confidence.

This was reflected in the automotive sales for the year – the first quarter started positively, and the industry was on track to achieve the 570,000 unit prediction made by Toyota at last year’s SOMI. However, sales began stagnating during the second half of the year, resulting in a final tally of 532,098 for the year – up JUST 0.5% on last year’s tally.

That said, some positive news was also forthcoming. South Africa retained its status as one of the most competitive markets in the world, with two all-new passenger brands, three brands LCV, and two new commercial brands establishing themselves here during this period. 

The number of new individual models added was even more compelling: 12 new variants in the country’s more affordable segments (B and Sub-B), five in the Double Cab LCV segment, and a staggering 29 in the Extra Heavy Commercial Vehicle space. The latter is directly attributable to the logistical issues facing South Africa, particularly in rail transport.

The other interesting content shared by Kirby related to the source countries for imported models. Not surprisingly, the big winners here are India and China, with India accounting for 42% of all the passenger cars sold in South Africa. This is up from 28% in 2022. Chinese imports also experienced a growth spurt – rallying from a 3% share to 9%. There has also been a corresponding rise in the number of models from these countries – India going from 34 models to 44, and China upping its model quota from 10 to 15.

In line with global trends, South Africa experienced heightened demand for New Energy Vehicles (NEV) with a 65% volume increase in 2023, but this is off a relatively small base – the total number of NEVs sold totalled 7,693. As expected, the biggest volume contributors came from hybrid variants (84%). 

According to Leon Theron, Toyota bucked the negative retail trend by ending the year with 142,612 units, which was not only the highest volume sold since 2007, but also equates to the company’s best market share on record. Toyota has been the bestselling automotive brand in South Africa for 44 years, and is the only manufacturer with representation in virtually all segments of the new vehicle market. Specifically, Toyota’s dominance in the NEV space was spotlighted, with the automaker’s overall market share at 53%. This is attributable to a 22% increase in sales over 2022. The B-segment Corolla Cross Hybrid comprised the lion’s share of Toyota NEV sales (55%). For the luxury Lexus brand, NEV sales accounted for a record 42.5% of overall sales in 2023.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2024

Taking a more conservative view on volumes for 2024, Andrew Kirby’s sales forecast for 2024 expects total volume to grow marginally (by 1.5%) for to 540,000 units across the spectrum, with the breakdown as follows:

  • Passenger – 355,871
  • LCV – 152,827
  • HCV – 31,301

As is customary, Toyota also revealed the range of new vehicles it intends to introduce during the year. 

Light Commercials

The headliners in the LCV space include the Land Cruiser 70 Series minor facelift for the single cab, double cab, and station wagon. Highlights of the upgrade include the introduction of Toyota’s 2.8 GD-6 powerplant to the range, a new six-speed automatic gearbox (a Land Cruiser first), and an updated cabin with new infotainment system.

All eyes will be on Toyota when the new Land Cruiser Prado debuts in April. Running on the same platform as the LC300, the Prado’s new modular design makes repairs and replacements easier, and underscores the iconic car’s square silhouette. Powered also by the 2.8 GD-6 engine (with eight-speed auto), the new Prado will debut with the First Edition, followed by TX and VX-R derivatives.

The star of every Toyota showroom, the iconic Hilux, also breaks new ground in an effort to retain its 50-year-long segment dominance.

A 48-volt mild-hybrid derivative will launch in March, adding 12 kW of power and 65 Nm of torque to the engine through the motor generator. Introducing segment-first regenerative braking, advanced Stop/Start, idle speed reduced to 600 rpm, and improved acceleration and fuel efficiency (+5%), all Hilux 2.8 Auto Raider and Legend models, as well as 2.8-litre Fortuner models, will showcase this new technology. 

Also available from March 2024, the third-generation Hilux GR-S shows a new face gleaned from the iconic Tundra with customised Dakar-bred styling, a “Wide-Tread” body, a bespoke GR Interior, and a performance boost (165 kW and 550 Nm torque) over the regular Hilux 2.8.

Medium Commercials

Another segment first, the Hino 300 Series Hybrid, will launch in November with a 4.0-litre common-rail turbodiesel mill boasting 110 kW and 470 Nm. The Hino’s electric motor is directly coupled to a six-speed auto ‘box and utilises regenerative braking and advanced Stop/Start. It also introduces advanced safety features such as a Pre-collision System (PCS), lane-departure warning (LDWS), and cruise control.

LAST WORD

Toyota will launch its first full-electric passenger car in South Africa next year. The bZ4X

– or a related model in the Beyond Zero (BZ) family – is based on Toyota’s eTNGA platform and is rumoured to be sold here in front-wheel-drive and dual-motor all-wheel-drive. 

The Lexus RZ will also debut next year, and will be offered exclusively with the carmaker’s dual-motor AWD system. The brisk performer (offering 150 kW to front wheels and 80 kW to rear) will pioneer Lexus’ advanced Steer by Wire technology and boast a range of between 375 and 450 km.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR / TOYOTA SOUTH AFRICA | Images © TOYOTA SOUTH AFRICA

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