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2008-01-29 08:10

Wilmer Muller

Toyota South Africa is confident that the slowdown in vehicle sales won't hurt the company. In fact the carmaker believes that it will grow its market share.

At a media conference in Cape Town, Toyota's vice-president of marketing, communications and planning, Ace Dube, said that the carmaker's forecast for 2008 is to increase sales from last year's 152 821 units to about 162 000.

In 2007 South Africa was the 9th biggest world market for the Japanese manufacturer.

Models that will drive the growth are the Hilux, Quantum, Yaris and Corolla. Newcomers such as the Avanza Panel Van will also help to boost the brand's overall appeal. Furthermore there will be eight spec changes and facelifts to current models.

"We are not participating in the (automotive) recession," Dube said. "Toyota is a trusted brand and our January sales are already ahead of sales recorded in the same period last year."

Toyota also wants to increase production at its Prospecton plant near Durban where it produced 145 213 vehicles last year, of which almost 60 000 were destined for foreign markets.

This year Toyota plans to build 205 000 vehicles at the Prospecton facility. According to Dube the aim is to export about 50% of these units.

Dube also said that South Africa's current energy crisis has not affected manufacturing yet. "It has had no impact on our production, however, some of our suppliers have suffered," Dube said.

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