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Economy & Business

Toyota eyes Durban airport for growth plan 
Edward West

KwaZulu-Natal Correspondent

DURBAN — Toyota SA had shown interest in using the Durban International Airport site for its expansion when the new King Shaka airport starts operating in 2009, eThekwini deputy mayor Logie Naidoo said yesterday.

But Toyota will have to battle for the site as other motor component manufacturers and a chemical firm are also itching to buy it.

Naidoo said yesterday that Toyota, which operates the biggest assembly plant in Africa in Prospecton, south of Durban, had indicated it might purchase the site to create a Toyota City-type complex, similar to that in Japan, where vehicle assembly and component manufacturing operations are close by.

“The Durban Motor Show in March and the A1 Grand Prix this month help to build confidence in the city. Durban International’s site is flat, serviced and its new car park has been designed so it can easily convert into offices,” Naidoo said.

The airport has recently spent R100m to upgrade is parking facilities, but it is scheduled to close when the new airport being built at La Mercy, 30km north of Durban, comes on stream in 2009.

Toyota SA operates on a 79ha site in Prospecton and is nearing the end of an expansion that will see it produce 940 vehicles a day, or 220000 units a year.

Durban Motor Show manager Phillip Otto said KwaZulu-Natal had become a portal for automotive imports and exports as well as a significant platform supporting the growth of SA’s automotive sector.

He said vehicle sales in the province had been 3,4% above the national average in the past three years, when vehicles sales nationally reached high levels. Durban’s port handled 413617 vehicles last year, of which 301267 were imports while 112350 were exports.

There are more than 50 car component manufacturers in the province. A scattered handful of them includes aluminium casting manufacturers in Pietermaritzburg, leather and textile seat-cover makerss in Amanzimtoti, hydraulic cylinder, axle and specialised mining and industrial vehicle makers in Empangeni and upholstery firms in Ladysmith.

Strategists have suggested that the majority of industrial production might gravitate towards major ports and away from the traditional engineering hub of Gauteng over the next few decades as more industries become integrated in global supply chains.

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