Toyota Motor Corporation has announced that its South African operation will be an integral part of a global project to supply pick-up trucks, MPVs (minivans) and major vehicle components to countries in Europe, Africa, South East Asia, Latin America and other regions, writes Dave Cumming.

The network will involve manufacturing bases in South Africa, Latin America and Asean countries and will begin operations in 2004.

Toyota SA’s plant in Prospecton, near Durban, will be upgraded to increase its capacity to 60,000 units annually. Of these, 30 000 will be pick-ups and MPVs destined for Europe, Africa and other regions.

The aim of the project is to enhance Toyota’s competitiveness by “optimising its worldwide development, procurement and production activities through orderly and efficient tie-ups between production bases outside Japan to produce ‘Yen-free’ vehicles and components,” the company said.

The plan envisages a free exchange of vehicles and major components between production centres in various countries around the world to take advantage of economies of scale and regional economic benefits.

For instance, diesel engine production in Thailand will be increased to 240,000 units, of which 130,000 will be exported. Similarly, petrol engine production in Indonesia will be stepped up to 180,000 units, of which 130,000 will be exported.

India will become a supply base for manual transmissions.