If Toyota SA’s recently launched Hilux export programme proves successful, it is likely that the next-generation Corollas assembled in South Africa could be exported to Europe and the rest of Africa by 2008.

If Toyota SA’s recently launched Hilux export programme proves successful, it is likely that the next-generation Corollas assembled in South Africa could be exported to Europe and the rest of Africa by 2008.

Elizabeth Bradley, chairman of Wesco, the local investment company that holds a 25 per cent stake in Toyota’s local subsidiary, recently told that Toyota SA would start assembling the next Corolla in about two years’ time.

However, the planned export to Europe and other African countries was dependent upon the success of the large-scale Toyota Hilux export programme, the newspaper reported.

About 60 000 Hiluxes will be exported to Europe per annum, once production hits its peak, and Toyota currently exports about 8 000 Corollas to Australia in a year. The two export programmes are expected to run alongside each other.

Bradley noted, too, that while the new vehicle sales boom continued, Toyota’s market share had dropped slightly. This was attributed to the bulk of new car sales being in imported vehicles. The drop in market share has come despite sales figures indicating that the market is set for its best result in 20 years.

She added, though, that since Toyota had taken over control of the local operation in 2003, its profits had exceeded expectations.

Wesco said it believed that having the parent company as a majority shareholder in Toyota SA was essential for its future. It is also unlikely that Toyota SA would have secured its extensive export programme without the involvement of the Toyota Japan.