Each January, Toyota South Africa Motors hosts a gathering of its own executives, managers, interested parties and media. It’s called State of the Motor Industry or SOMI. This year is no different. We attended today’s SOMI and have the following to report:

Simon Humphries, Global Head of Design for Toyota and Lexus, addressed the gathering virtually, via video connection from Japan. He says each car needs its own different design, also informed by function as well as aesthetics. Humphries says Toyota is responding to the new global energy requirements through powertrains such as Hybrid, EV and Fuel Cell. Design works with the environment, says Humphries. Design must take cognizance of not only performance, comfort but also build materials and overall customer wellbeing among others. Humphries says “design to dealership” timelines are now much shorter than ever before. New systems and tech have enabled this.

Toyota South Africa Motors President and CEO Mr Andrew Kirby then got on stage with event MC Dion Chang. Kirby summarised the industry and the market from the beginning to the end of 2022, spending some time on the tragic flood disaster of KwaZulu Natal back in April. The event affected not only Toyota as a company, but the motor industry as a whole. Over 4 000 units were removed from the market, and the total sales were down significantly as a result.

Left to right: Dion Chang, Andrew Kirby and Leon Theron.

Kirby also says people in this country no longer just follow, but they also create trends. And we’re as diverse as our “rainbow nation” moniker suggests. He reckons that while fully electric cars are not going to be quickly adopted in Mzansi, connectivity will. Therefore new cars should keep up with consumer connectivity demand.

Leon Theron, Senior VP for Sales and Marketing at Toyota South Africa Motors, says the company is currently sitting at a 17% total market share. They are working on increasing this to 25% by 2025. A lot of work still needs to be done to close this apparent gap.

One of Andrew Kirby’s keynote points at SOMI is always his company’s sales prediction for the upcoming year. This year he believes that the entire Mzansi new vehicle market will be worth 570 000 units in 2023, which is significantly up from the 528 963 units sold in 2022.

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