Toyota invests $390 million to expand production at South African car plant




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JOHANNESBURG   – Japanese automaker Toyota has invested 6.1 billion rand ($390 ) to expand the production its Hilux and Fortuner models in South Africa, its country CEO said Wednesday.

Toyota South Africa said aims to increase output at the plant, which expects to hit full production in June, by 20,000 units a year and exports. The firm says it already exports to 74 countries, mainly in Africa and western Europe.

“It also improves our competitive levels so that we can try and strengthen our base,” CEO Andrew Kirby said.

South Africa’s car industry has drawn investments of over 25 billion rand in the past five years, the government says.

BMW’s South African unit said it would invest 6 billion rand ($383.40 million) at its plant in the capital, Pretoria last year.

Kirby said the automotive manufacturing sector faced labour unrest and exchange rate fluctuations and could therefore rely solely on the domestic market for sales.

“For manufacturers in South Africa we need to have a balance between domestic and export volumes,” said Kirby.

The sector, which includes Toyota, Ford and General Motors, came to a near standstill for over four weeks after around 30,000 workers belonging to the National Union of Metalworker’s of South Africa went on strike in 2013, demanding a pay hike.

($1 = 15.6495 rand)(Reuters)