Toyota Motor Europe has declined to comment on a report that South African-produced Corollas will soon be shipped from Durban to Europe.

“We don’t comment on possible future production plans,” a spokesman told just-auto on Friday.

The website AllAfrica reported that Toyota Motor Corporation vice chairman Katsuhiro Nakagawa had said Toyota South Africa would produce Corollas specifically to be exported to Europe during a meeting on Wednesday in Tokyo between the provincial government and Toyota representatives.

Nakagawa reportedly announced that about 50 engineers had already been sent to South Africa to help with the manufacturing of the vehicles.

The report also said the automaker wanted more Japanese automotive parts suppliers in South Africa as the country was considered to be the gateway to the rest of the continent.

“We want to make our South African plant more competitive compared to Toyota plants in other countries,” Nakagawa was quoted as saying.

Toyota also planned to establish a training school in South Africa.

Local production of the Corolla – renamed Auris for Europe when redesigned recently – begins in August, according to the report.

Toyota South Africa already exports some vehicles to markets such as Australia and rival automakers export, or have exported, various models to Europe such as the VW Golf and BMW 3-series.

The Mercedes plant there is a global centre for right-hand-drive C-class models and Ford exports its Focus to Australia.

Graeme Roberts