Late in November 2018, Toyota South Africa Motors confirmed the new Corolla sedan would be imported into South Africa rather than built at the brand’s Prospecton plant in KwaZulu-Natal. And now we have (unofficial) word the outgoing sedan is set to live on as a locally produced Quest-badged offering, which means the 43-year run of local Corolla production technically won't end just yet.
Of course, the move to use the outgoing sedan as a base for a "new" Corolla Quest – while not yet officially confirmed by Toyota SA Motors – makes sense, since the current prolonged lifecycle vehicle (itself based on the tenth-generation model) is quite popular in South Africa, both with private consumers and with fleet buyers.
Indeed, in November 2018, Toyota is said to have sold 880 units of the Quest (officially, the Japanese firm reports a figure to Naamsa that combines Corolla, Auris and Corolla Quest sales, which in this instance was 1 426).
So, what does all this mean for the Prospecton facility’s production and export volumes? Well, it’s interesting to note that local production and export of the eleventh-generation Corolla has declined steadily over the past few years (previously, Prospecton supplied many European markets with the Corolla, but from the eleventh generation the sedan was also built in Turkey), with the Hilux forming the bulk of both monthly figures.
As an example, in November 2018, Toyota exported 3 652 units (admittedly down a considerable 2 267 units on the firm’s effort in October), comprising 3 400 examples of the Hilux, 142 units of the Fortuner and just 100 vehicles from the Corolla line (plus 10 examples of Hino trucks). In fact, over the past half year, Corolla exports have averaged 88 units a month.
A report from August 2018, meanwhile, suggested Toyota SA was “investigating” the possibility of building a “more affordable” car in Durban. And seems likely this as-yet-unannounced model will fill any freed-up production capacity at Prospecton.