He said the development was “an important step to the country’s path to transform the car-making business into a green industry success story.”
Speaking at the unveiling of the brand-new Toyota vehicle at the production plant in Durban on Tuesday, Ramaphosa said the Corolla Cross was the first generation of commercial-scale hybrid electric vehicles to come off an assembly line in this country.
The president said the US$186 million investment by the Japanese multinational automotive manufacturer to produce the hybrid vehicle was a vote of confidence in the country’s economy following the July riots which saw over 300 people killed during the unrest.
According to the president, the hybrid vehicle was more than simply a new model coming off a production line.
“It will take hard work but we must do it,” the South African leader said.
He said it was about embracing the opportunities of a greener economy -- country and continent -- while ensuring that South Africa benefited from this process.
“During the plant tour, I met workers who are passionate and committed and I saw the value of the skills programme the management has put in place,” he added.
South Africa is currently one of only seven global locations for the production of this hybrid car, which he believed was a testament to the skilled, productive workforce and competitive plant.
The president announced that the Corolla Cross will be exported to 40 countries across Africa, which will boost the newly-launched African Continental Free Trade Area.
“I am advised that the company will seek to ramp up its projected 4,000 hybrid vehicles planned for next year if the availability of batteries improves,” he said.
Toyota South Africa Chief Executive Andrew Kirby said the firm had invested over US$436 million in the plant over the past five years, thereby creating 575 new jobs in the plant and a further 1,200 new jobs created in the supplier chains.