South Africa has identified three key priorities for climate action, including increased production of electric vehicles, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.
The state will also focus on reducing carbon emissions at Eskom and fast-tracking plans for a green-hydrogen economy, Ramaphosa said on Tuesday in a speech at a ceremony to mark the start of production of hybrid cars at a Toyota factory. The government has published a draft paper on a roadmap for increased production of fully electric vehicles, which will be presented to potential investors, he said.
"We have called on international leaders to support South Africa’s efforts to green our economy and address our ambitious climate change goals through equally ambitious grants and funding support," Ramaphosa said.
Toyota has begun producing a vehicle known as the Corolla Cross Hybrid, which has a combined internal-combustion engine and electric motor, at a factory in Prospecton in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The company could make 4 000 of the cars by 2025 if the availability of batteries increases, Ramaphosa said.
Toyota is investing R2.6 billion in the production of the Corolla Cross Hybrid - the first time a hybrid vehicle is manufactured commercially in SA.
The vehicle will be exported to around 40 countries, in a bid to cement Toyota South Africa Motors' position as a global player.
About 111 hybrids can be manufactured per day at the plant, depending on demand. It is expected that it will add about R1.4 billion per year to SA’s economy.
Speaking at the opening, Ramaphosa said the event represented "more than just a vehicle coming off an assembly line".
"I applaud Toyota for its courage and vote of confidence by pledging this investment already at the investment conference in 2019. Japan remains a long-term investor in SA," said Ramaphosa.
"It is also important for the green economy and skills development in the country as well as driving our industrialisation process," he said.
He also praised Toyota for continuing to invest in SA, and KwaZulu-Natal, in the wake of the July unrest.
The president jokingly said he might apply to be employee number 8 000 at the facility. It currently provides 7 999 jobs.
Nearly a quarter of the jobs at the plant – some 1 700 – are new.
The president referred to the master plan for the automotive industry and said the aim is to create investor confidence when they make long-term decisions.
"Localisation is a key pillar of SA’s economic recovery plan," said Ramaphosa.
Referring to the late Johan van Zyl, former executive chair of Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), who died earlier this year due to Covid-19 complications, he said: "Johan van Zyl was a visionary who would have been proud of the launch today and of improving the business climate in the country."
Additional reporting by Carin Smith, Fin24