Toyota will be throwing out cars like confetti in 2024 based on some sneak previews of upcoming product at its annual State of the Motor Industry (SOMI) address where CEO Andrew Kirby also predicted a total new vehicle market of 540 000 for this year.

Kirby said the prediction was only marginally more than the numbers for 2023 with affordability for car buyers still heavily impacted by business losses and questions of sustainability because of ongoing load shedding, the high interest rates and the poor performance of the Rand.

“The inflation rate has come down slightly but the other factors do make it difficult for people to afford new vehicles and we can see with both private and fleet clients the tendency to hold onto cars for longer is stretching out,” he says.

Thabo Manako, CEO of Toyota Financial Services, echoed this and added: “Vehicle price inflation does not correlate with normal inflation so customers are just holding onto what they have. Customers will be under price pressure for a while yet.”

Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series

However, this has not put a damper on the new product and the Toyota year kicks off with the retro-inspired styling of the new Land Cruiser 70 Series that launches next month in fingle cab, double cab and station wagon formats, featuring a 2.8 GD-6 automatic version for the first time.

March 2024 brings us the Toyota Hilux 48V - and that does not stand for 48-valve. Rather, it refers to a 48 Volt mild hybrid electric package that adds 12 kW and 65 Nm to the package that will be available on the Fortuner 2.8. The idle speed reduces to 600 r/min and Toyota claims a 5% improvement in acceleration and fuel efficiency.

Toyota Hilux 48V

Also launching in March is the Hilux GR-S III offering 165 kW and 550 Nm and built on a slightly wide body to accommodate wide tread off-road tyres.

In April we will se the new Land Cruiser Prado that is based on the LC300 platform and goes back to its roots with a much squaerer front end shape, modular design, and an 8-speed auto option for the 2.8 GD-6 that also boasts significantly refined suspension tuning. It will be available in two grades - TX and VX-R.

Land Cruiser Prado

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Launching in 2025 will be the Toyota bZ4X, the company’s first local foray into a full battery electric vehicle (BEV) that will have a range of around 400 kilometres. The ‘preview’ vehicle is the outgoing version and South Africa will get the newest variant as it happens.

Staying electric, this month sees the launch of the Lexus RZ dual-motor all-wheel drive BEV with 150 kW on the front wheels and 80 kW on the rear wheels.

Lexus RZ

However, Toyota is not just about new products and Kirby outlined some of the company activities in relation to climate change resilience and revealed some R236-million had been spent to protect the Prospecton plant from the kind of flood damage suffered with the devastating KZN floods.

“Additionally, we aim to be using 100% renewable energy by 2028 at the plant and have already started the installation of solar panels and equipment that will get us there. We are also installing solar panels on the roof of our massive parts warehouse and will follow that with a solar and renewable energy plan for our Sandton head office.

“Energy management is a big part of our journey going forward,” he says.

Colin Windell