How will Toyota's flood-damaged cars affect SA customers and when will the the factory re-open?

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  • The Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) Durban car factory remains shut after flooding two weeks ago.
  • The company will make no official statement on what will happen to the damaged cars yet.
  • Social media is rife with speculation that Toyota might sell discounted water-damaged cars locally.
  • For motoring news, go to Wheels24


It's been a couple of weeks since Mother Nature's wrath descended upon an unsuspecting KwaZulu-Natal. Thundering rainfall and subsequent seismic shifts left most of the province in shambles as roads washed away and homes and businesses washed out into rivers and seas.

It's been challenging for most Durban residents and businesses, particularly Toyota South Africa, one of the region's leading employers. The company's Prospecton vehicle manufacturing and assembly plant ceased operations because it was flooded during the heavy rains. Hundreds of vehicles were damaged on the production lines, and millions of rands of equipment and materials were exposed to the elements. 

Flood at Toyota plant in Durban
Flooding at Toyota's plant in Durban
Flooding at Toyota plant near Durban
Scenes of flooding at the Toyota plant near Durban.
Flooding at Toyota plant near Durban
Efforts geared towards a safe start-up - after water has been cleared - are in place, says Toyota.

Will Toyota SA offer discount water-damaged cars for sale?

Social media has ignited speculation that Toyota South Africa will sell its water-logged vehicles to offset damage costs. It's even been suggested that these vehicles might be sold at a discount and without mechanical warranties.

Wheels24 reached out to Toyota SA to precisely determine what will happen to the damaged cars and when operations will return to normal at the factory. Toyota SA said it would not be granting interviews at this stage, but it did provide us with an official statement below. We will maintain regular contact with our sources at the company to find out more about the damaged vehicles and their potential to end up on the market.

2022 Toyota GR-Sport Hilux
2022 Toyota GR-Sport Hilux

Toyota SA's official response to KZN plant activity post-flooding

"We are currently implementing a systematic and meticulous phased plan to return our Prospecton Plant, south of Durban, to working condition after suffering extensive flood damage two weeks ago. This approach is designed to ensure a safe start-up without any potential secondary issues," the company's media liaisons say.

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They note that clean-up operations are progressing at a pace in different areas - the first three phases include establishing temporary utilities at the plant, cleaning up and then powering up the machinery. Once the trial power-up stage is reached, certain areas of the facility will then be able to move to phase four which involves an accurate assessment and equipment check.   

Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of Toyota SA
Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of Toyota SA

Not going to rush into resuming operations

According to the President and CEO of TSAM, Andrew Kirby: "Only once we commence with this phase we will be able to judge the real lead time to resume production adequately. As you can imagine, there will be a mountain of repairs to be made along with many parts that will need to be ordered – it would be irresponsible of us to call a start-up date until we have the full picture. We anticipate firming up dates within the next week."

READ: It's official: Toyota will sell a manual GR Supra in South Africa before year's end

Kirby expressed gratitude for the support received from its dealers and suppliers, local and national government, and its staff. It singled out parent company Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) for its swift response to this emergency: "TSAM's recovery is currently the number-one priority for TMC as demonstrated by more than 50 maintenance and engineering experts on-site, with more arriving next week."

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross GR-Sport
2022 Toyota Corolla Cross GR-Sport

Imported models won't be affected too much

On the sales front, Leon Theron, Senior Vice President of TSAM, confirmed that while the shutdown will impact the delivery of locally-built models in the short term, plans have been put into place to prioritise existing orders.

"We appreciate the patience exhibited by our customers – yes, Hilux, Fortuner, Corolla Cross and Quest orders will take a little longer, but please be assured that they will be filled the moment our new supply kicks in. As far as imported models go, it's business as usual - in fact, we have requested extra units to compensate for the temporary lack of availability on locally-built models," he expounds. 

We'll let you know more about the damaged vehicles once we secure an interview with Toyota's spokespeople.


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