LOCALLY-BUILT SES'FIKILE: Toyota has started local production of its Quantum Ses'fikile (above) bus at Prospecton, south of Durban. They had been imports. Image: Quickpic
PROSPECTON, kwaZulu-Natal - Ses'fikile multi-seat taxis are now rollling off the production lines at Toyota SA's new Quantum plant in Prospecton, just south of central Durban.
The units - the name, in Xhosa, means 'we have arrived' - had until then been imported and succeeded the venerable Hiace Siyaya ('Going') 14-seater that had been running in South Africa since 1969.
The plant was opened in 2012 but since April 2015 Toyota has invested in welding, assembly and paint facilities to permit local production.
Toyota CEO of Europe and Africa, Johan van Zyl, said: "South Africa is a very important market to Toyota globally in terms of supply to the rest of the world and a gateway to Africa. With more than R550-million invested in the Quantum plant to date, it certainly underlines Toyota's confidence in this country.
“This investment shows that Toyota is committed to development in the taxi industry and to continuing its contribution to the country."
SA’s taxi industry transports more than 15-million people each workday, 60%-70% of the commuting public, reports Toyota. The automaker has been importing and assembling minibuses locally since 1967 and reports an 80% SA market share.
A Toyota media release said: “The Quantum factory has contributed more than 260 jobs, raising the full Quantum staff complement beyond 300 of which 45% of new employees are young professionals aged 18 to 35.
“The added benefit to the country's economy with a new factory of this nature is additional job opportunities in supporting sectors - in this case, 165 jobs were created at supplier level to take the total number of jobs created by the Quantum plant to well past 400.”