A “mountain of repairs to be made” – CEO of Toyota SA

Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) said on Friday it was still unable to confirm when production would resume at its plant following extensive damage caused by recent flooding in KwaZulu-Natal.

Production at the Prospecton plant south of Durban has been suspended since April 11.

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TSAM said it is currently implementing a systematic and meticulous phased plan to restore its plant to working order after suffering extensive flood damage two weeks ago. This approach is designed to ensure a safe start without any potential secondary issues.

The company said cleanup operations are progressing at a pace in different areas, with the first three phases including:

  • The installation of temporary utilities at the plant;
  • To clean; and
  • Powering up machines.

TSAM said that once the power-up stage of the trial is reached, certain areas of the facility will then be able to proceed to phase four, which involves precise assessment and verification of equipment.

Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of TSAM, said that only once they begin this phase will they be “able to adequately judge the realistic timeline for production to resume. “.

“As you can imagine, there will be a mountain of repairs to do, as well as many parts to order.

“So it would be irresponsible of us to call a start date until we have a full picture.

“We expect to confirm dates by next week,” he said.

Rival’s Speculation

A senior executive from a rival local automaker claimed production at TSAM’s Prospecton plant would not resume for about four months.

The executive, who did not want to be named, said the floods had caused damage estimated at 2.8 billion rand to the TSAM plant.

TSAM did not respond directly to a request from Moneyweb more than a week ago to confirm or deny these claims and a number of other questions.

Home delivery

TSAM senior vice president Leon Theron confirmed that delivery of locally built models would be affected in the short term, but assured customers that plans had been put in place to prioritize existing orders.

“We really appreciate the patience shown by our customers.

“Yes, Hilux, Fortuner, Corolla Cross and Quest orders are going to take a little longer, but rest assured they will be filled as soon as our new supply goes live,” Theron said.

“As far as imported models are concerned, it’s business as usual. In fact, we have requested additional units to compensate for the temporary lack of availability of locally built models,” he said.

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Kirby expressed gratitude for the support TSAM has received from its dealers and suppliers, local and state government and its staff.

Parent company support

Kirby singled out parent company Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) of Japan for its rapid response to this emergency.

“The recovery of TSAM is currently TMC’s number one priority, as demonstrated by more than 50 maintenance and engineering experts on site, with more arriving next week,” he said.

The suspension of production at the TSAM plant has also had an impact on its suppliers.

Read: KZN Floods: Key Lessons

The executive director of the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (Naacam), Renai Moothilal, confirmed last month that automotive component suppliers had been affected by flooding and that several suppliers had gone out of business. He was unable to name the companies involved.

Metair’s comments

Metair Investments, a JSE-listed maker of automotive components and energy storage solutions, a major supplier to TSAM, declined a Moneyweb interview request on the impact of suspending production at the TSAM on Metair’s operations.

Metair instead released a statement from its management team in which it said the direct impact of the flooding on the company’s operations was minimal, with no real damage to facilities.

However, without mentioning TSAM by name, Metair confirmed that the company’s operations were not running optimally “due to flood recovery efforts that are still ongoing at our major customer.”

“We support our employees and customers as best we can and stay in close communication with them.

“The full extent of damage, disruption and impact is currently being assessed by the company. We are monitoring the situation closely and will have further information in due course,” he said. .

Metair said its management team will provide updates when new details become available to share.

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