The head of Toyota South Africa Motors says the local arm of the Japanese automaker is still “trying to get approval” to produce a new model at its Prospecton facility in Durban.

Speaking to Engineering News, Andrew Kirby, Toyota SA Motors president and CEO, confirmed production of the outgoing Corolla sedan would cease at the KZN plant in 2020 (although we suspect it could live on as the new Quest), when the automaker is due to start importing the new-generation model.

“We are trying to get approval for a replacement vehicle,” Kirby told the publication, which in August 2018 reported the brand was “investigating” the possibility of building a “more affordable” car locally.

“The key issue is to demonstrate that we are globally competitive and that we can achieve the required volumes to make the product viable.

“Right now, the South African market is under pressure and we don’t have another market in Africa that is generating volume. So this has been quite a difficult process for us. We hope to have an answer on the new model by 2020,” he revealed.

The Prospecton facility currently also produces the Hilux bakkie, Fortuner SUV and Quantum Ses’Fikile minibus.

Kirby furthermore said load-shedding was costing the firm – and other local manufacturers – plenty of money.

“The financial impact of losing production hours is enormous, because you need to make up through overtime, and overtime is expensive,” he told Engineering News.

“We are also not in a position to let our local or export customers down. We, as the South African industry, are working hard at maintaining a good reputation, especially as we try and secure future manufacturing investment.

“We are working closely with the City of Durban, and they have been understanding. We have been asked to reduce our daily consumption pattern by 20 percent and we have been making a big effort to do that.

“So far, we have been able to avert any production stoppage. So we haven’t lost any volumes, but if you walk into our plant, the lights are off and air-conditioning is off and some lines have stopped,” he said.