Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) hosted the seventh instalment of the popular State of the Motor Industry (SOMI) event at Kyalami.

A multi-layered activation, SOMI ’24 provided the perfect platform for TSAM’s President and CEO, Andrew Kirby, to sketch the true state of the motor industry from the unique vantage point of SA’s most popular automotive brand. It also provided a good opportunity for Leon Theron, TSAM’s Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing, to showcase a number of all-new models from the stable’s various brands. A surprise element in the form of the 2024 Dakar Press Conference was added to the programme.

Andrew Kirby on the ‘Year that Was’

Citing monetary and structural challenges such as an elevated repo rate (8,5% in 2023), depreciating Rand (13% down on the dollar last year), a record-breaking 332 days with load shedding, and up to a five-week backlog at the country’s ports, Kirby made clear that this negatively impacted GDP and therefore concomitantly business confidence as well.

This was reflected in the automotive sales for the year – the first quarter started off really positively and the industry was on track to achieve the 570,000 prediction made by Toyota at last year’s SOMI. However, sales started to stagnate, especially after the second half of the year and this means that the final tally for the year was 532,098 – just 0,5% up on 22’s numbers.

Nevertheless, there are still some positives – South Africa is seen as a very competitive car market as evidenced by the number of new entrants that entered the market last year. There were two all-new passenger brands, three in LCV and two in commercial that established themselves in SA in this period. Even more compelling was the number of new individual models that were added – the big increases coming in the most popular segments namely B and Sub-B which saw an additional 12 new variants (an indicator of the appetite for vehicles at the affordable end of the market), five in Double Cab and a staggering 29 in the Extra Heavy Commercial Vehicle space. The latter is directly attributable to the logistical issues facing South Africa, particularly in rail transport.

The other interesting content shared by Kirby related to the source countries for imported models. Not surprisingly the big winners here are India and China, with India accounting for 42% of all the passenger cars sold in this country. This is up from 28% in 2022. China has also experienced a big growth spurt – going from a 3% share of the imported market to 9%. There has also been a corresponding rise in the number of models from these countries – India going from 34 models to 44 and China upping its model quota from 10 to 15.

In line with global trends, South Africa experienced heightened demand for New Energy Vehicles with a 65% volume increase in 2023, but this is off a relatively small base – total number of NEVs sold totalled 7,693. As expected, by far the biggest volume contributors coming from hybrid variants (84%).

Leon Theron on Toyota’s Sales Performance

Toyota bucked the negative retail trend by ending off the year on 142,612 units, which was not only the highest volume sold since 2007, it also equated to the company’s best market share on record. Toyota has been the bestselling automotive brand in South Africa for 44 years, it’s also the only manufacturer with representation in just about all segments of the new vehicle market.

Given its topicality, Theron focused on Toyota’s dominance in the New Energy Vehicle (NEV) space:

Toyota’s overall share is 53%

22% increase in NEV volume sales over 2022

Corolla Cross Hybrid makes up the lion share of Toyota NEV sales (55%)

Lexus NEV volumes accounted for a record 42,5% of total Lexus sales in ‘23

Andrew Kirby’s Sales Forecast for 2024:

Total Sales – 540,000 (slightly up from SA’s 2023 total of 532,098)

Passenger – 355,871

LCV – 152,827

Other – 31,301

New Models Revealed:

Land Cruiser 70 Series

Launching February 2024

Classic facelift (single cab, double cab and station wagon)

2.8 GD-6 powerplant

New 6-speed auto (LC first)

Updated cabin with new infotainment system

Land Cruiser Prado

Launching April 2024

Square silhouette

Modular design – easy to replace parts if damaged off-roading

LC 300 platform

2.8 GD-6 engine

8-speed auto

Debuts with First Edition then followed by TX and VX-R

Toyota Hilux 48V

Launching March 2024

48 volt mild-hybrid electric package

Adds 12kW of power and 65Nm of torque through the motor generator to the engine

Regenerative Braking

Advanced Stop/Start

Idle Speed reduced to 600rpm (good for off-roading)

Improved acceleration and fuel efficiency (+5%)

Available on all Hilux 2.8 Auto Raider and Legend models as well as Fortuner 2,8

Hino 300 Series Hybrid

Launching November 2024

4-litre Common-Rail Turbo (Euro6 with Diesel Particulate Reduction and Selective Catalytic Reduction)

Combined output – 110kW & 470Nm

Electric motor directly coupled to 6-speed auto box

Utilises regenerative braking and advanced stop/start

Advanced safety includes Pre-collision system (PCS), lane departure warning system (LDWS) & cruise control

Toyota bZ4X

Launching ’25 – either this model or related model in BZ family (Beyond Zero)

1st BEV from Toyota

Based on Toyota’s eTNGA platform, a dedicated BEV platform

Striking styling, with lots of angles, features unusual dark contrast fenders for visual drama

Available internationally in FWD and Dual-Motor AWD (specs still TBC)

400km range for most economical model

Fun to drive as only a true carmaker can

Lexus RZ

Launching Lexus RZ early in 2025

1st bespoke BEV from Lexus on eTNGA platform

Offered exclusively with dual-motor AWD

Brisk performer offering 150kW to front wheels and 80kW to rear

Lexus pioneered advanced Steer by Wire tech (available either at launch or shortly thereafter)

Range between 375 & 450km

Hilux GR S III

Launching March 2024

Face is ‘grafted’ from the iconic Tundra with customised Dakar-bred styling

“Wide-Tread” body i.e. wider than normal Hilux

Bespoke GR Interior

Performance boost over regular Hilux 2.8 – power 165kW & torque 550Nm

Ultimate off-roader & polished on-road dynamics