Toyota’s Prospecton factory near Durban was flooded by torrential rains. Picture: SUPPLIED
Toyota SA Motors (TSAM) will scrap the vehicles that were damaged at its Prospecton factory south of Durban due to the devastating flooding in KwaZulu-Natal.
The company would not confirm how many vehicles were affected but a motor industry insider, who wished to remain anonymous, said there were about 4,000.
Of the total number of water-damaged vehicles assessed, 500 units have passed inspection and will be retailed, said Toyota.
Plant activities have been suspended while assessment and cleanup takes place, said Toyota, which is the country’s automotive market leader. It assembles the Corolla Cross, Quest, Hilux, Fortuner and Sesfikile taxi at the Prospecton plant.
“The cessation of operations will be extended when the plant enters the reparation phase. The damage caused to the TSAM facility has not yet been fully quantified; a more accurate forecast concerning the resumption of production will be provided once assessments are completed,” said a spokesperson.
After the KwaZulu-Natal floods in 2017, Toyota put in place measures to mitigate future occurrences, including installing pumps and piping within the plant to disperse water as well as maintaining the water-drainage channels surrounding the facility.
“These countermeasures worked successfully at keeping the flood waters at bay, but were unfortunately no match for the mass of water that breached the facility when the banks of the Umlazi River broke,” said the spokesperson.
While no staff succumbed to injuries on-site, TSAM would like to extend sincere condolences to the families who have suffered loss as a result of the catastrophic flooding, said TSAM president and CEO Andrew Kirby.
“Our approach and response is to prioritise our staff and their families, ensuring that their safety and wellness comes first. This will then be followed by the communities around us, including our extended Toyota family — our dealers and suppliers; in fact, we have already put plans in place to make a sizeable donation to an NGO to assist local communities,” he said.
He said this natural disaster has affected Toyota’s immediate ability to deliver vehicles. Senior vice-president of sales and marketing Leon Theron said that customers whose vehicles were destroyed, will be prioritised.
“This will be easier to facilitate with imported CBU (completely built up) vehicles as these are sourced from other plants. Of course, there is a pipeline for all imported vehicles, but we will try to increase this supply to make up for the units lost.
“Locally produced models such as Hilux are more of a challenge and we will be personally reaching out to customers to inform them of the delays in production.”