The head of Toyota South Africa Motors says the company is still on track to start production of its new passenger model in the final quarter of 2021.
Andrew Kirby, Toyota South Africa Motors president and CEO, said despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the new model would not be delayed "at all".
"We're investing over R2,5-billion in adding another passenger car model to our line and so far I'm very pleased that we’re not delaying the start of production at all,” Kirby said, speaking during a media session after the firm announced a new R15-million COVID-19 support package.
In February 2020, the company confirmed it would produce a new "passenger-car model” at Prospecton. In July 2020, Kirby suggested the new model would not be a sedan, which suggests it will be either a hatchback or (more likely) a crossover.
“There were some significant challenges because we had sourced tooling from China, for example, and during those beginning months of lockdown we had difficulties in sourcing that. But we’ve been able to catch back [up],” Kirby explained.
“One of the challenges was that we needed hands-on specialists to come and help with the installation of some of the very advanced technology facilities but we’ve used a lot of virtual techniques to try to offset that and we’re busy skilling up our own team even more.
“As long as we can get that team here by December-January, we should be on track to launch that vehicle in the fourth quarter of 2021. So, we’re still on track with that,” Kirby added.
So, what could the new model be? Well, as we've said in the past, we’d speculate there are two main possibilities. The first would see Toyota SA build a replacement of sorts for the budget Etios hatchback. The second, more likely option, would see a crossover rolling off the Durban production line. Corolla Cross, anyone?