Toyota tops SA sales charts; Ford invests R600m in local engine plant – In the driver’s seat with Jarryd Neves

By Jarryd Neves, Motoring correspondent

Japanese automaker Toyota, a brand that enjoys great popularity locally, has topped the sales charts. The local arm of the company reported sales dominance in both the passenger and commercial vehicle segments for the month of November. Out of 41,588 vehicles sold last month, 11,892 were from the Tokyo-headquartered company, giving it a considerable market share of 28.6%.

This, reports Toyota, is the first time it broke the 11,000 unit barrier since October 2019. The recently introduced Corolla Cross made a strong debut, with over 1,757 examples sold in November. Despite the R349,900 starting price, it managed to pip cheaper Toyota models such as the Starlet (1,477) and Agya (911). Interestingly, the locally built Corolla Cross range includes the cheapest hybrid on sale, the Xs derivative retailing for R413,000. The brand says that courtesy of its petrol-electric drivetrain, it can achieve a claimed fuel consumption figure of 4.3 L/100 km. While sales remain strong here in South Africa, Automotive News Europe reports the Japanese brands European sales have been hit hard by the semiconductor chip shortage.

Toyotas luxury arm, Lexus, managed to shift just 46 models off showroom floors while Hino sold 218 trucks.

The recently introduced Corolla Cross racked up 1,757 sales in November.

In preparation of the all-new Ford Ranger (it will be built locally from 2022), Ford South Africa has invested R600m in its Struandale manufacturing plant in Gqeberha. The American brand maintains the investment supports the launch of a new V6 turbodiesel engine – along with upgrades to the assembly line for 2.0-litre diesel engines – that will power the next-generation bakkie.

The line has assembled 792,000 engines since 2011. When production of the new Ranger commences next year, the plant will have the capacity to produce 21,000 units of the range-topping V6 engine. Currently, 850 people are employed at the facility and while Ford reports this will remain unchanged, employees will be optimised to support the required production volumes for all three engine programmes, thus ensuring stability in the local employment.

At the same time, the plant celebrates a milestone, producing over 3.8 million engines since 1964.

Ford has invested R600m in its Struandale engine plant, to produce the new 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine for the 2022 Ranger.

Despite US President Joe Bidens best efforts, electric vehicle (EV) sales in the United States are still lagging behind other parts of the world. According to The Guardian, EVs are expected to make up just 4% of total sales in the US, compared to 9% in China and 14% in Europe.

The Biden administration is strongly encouraging the sale of electric vehicles; the White House has reportedly set a goal for battery-powered vehicles to make up half of all new car sales by the end of the decade.

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