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SOMI 2022: Toyota discusses Electrification, Market Trends and Motorsport Developments

  • TMC Chief Scientist and CEO of TRI Dr. Gill Pratt says Toyota believes that the best way to reduce carbon emissions sooner is to employ diverse solutions
  • TSAM’s President and CEO Andrew Kirby predicts that a total of 540 000 vehicles will be sold in 2022, including 334 800 Passenger models, 178 198 LCV and 27 002 MCV and HCV
  • TSAM’s Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing Leon Theron announces the launch of Gazoo Racing (GR) Junior Academy and GR Cup 

Kyalami (Johannesburg): President and CEO of Toyota South Motors (TSAM) Andrew Kirby delivered his fifth State of the Motor Industry (SOMI) address at the Kyalami Racetrack and Conference Centre on Thursday. The event, which has become a permanent feature on the local automotive calendar, discussed a number of pertinent topics in the industry – including future mobility, market trends and a couple of announcements in motorsport.

This year’s guest speaker, Chief Scientist of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and CEO of Toyota Research Institute (TRI) Dr. Gill Pratt mapped out the company’s global plans with regards to electrification and reduction of carbon emissions as well as autonomous driving.

“We believe in battery electric vehicles and we’re investing heavily in them, but we also believe that the way to reduce more carbon emissions sooner is to employ diverse solutions. This is particularly important for mitigating climate change because CO2 emissions accumulate globally and remain in the atmosphere for a long time: we need to reduce CO2 as much as possible as soon as possible,” says Dr. Pratt.

He outlined that Toyota’s strategy towards the reduction of carbon emissions was premised on three key points:

  • Decarbonise as much as possible as quickly as possible
  • Enable everyone to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible
  • Maximise Carbon Return on Investment (CROI)


As Dr. Pratt puts it: The greatest reason Toyota believes we should diversify our portfolio of solutions to climate change is that a diverse approach is more likely to work.That’s why in December of 2021 Akio Toyoda announced that Toyota will invest approximately $70 billion globally in electrified vehicles, including Hybrid-petrol Vehicles, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV). Akio explained that Toyota wants to prepare as many options as possible for our customers around the world, and he also announced that Toyota plans to roll out 30 BEV models by 2030 and that Lexus is aiming for 100% BEV sales globally by 2035.


According to Dr. Pratt: There is also another reason why Toyota believes in a diversified approach to electrification, and it’s a human reason. We want to give all people around the world – from all walks of life – the best tools to solve the global problem of climate change. Different people have different circumstances and different needs. Some live in areas with electrical grids powered by renewables, others live in areas that will be powered by fossil fuels for some time. Some have convenient charging stations at home and others live in cities where that is more difficult. Some are wealthy. Most are not. As a result, what is best for the average person or for any particular person is not best for every person: we need to supply the world with a diversity of tools… Toyota believes the best strategy today for reducing greenhouse gases is to offer a diverse portfolio of hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles, battery electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles.


Dr. Pratt concludes: Now let me provide a third reason to believe in a diverse approach and this is an economic reason. The manufacture of products that reduce carbon emissions often emits some carbon as well, and this is generally true for solar cells and batteries. For example, a way to measure this phenomenon is to think of it like an investment: a carbon investment where we emit some carbon today in order to save more carbon from being emitted in the future. The term for this is CROI (carbon return on investment) and here is where it gets interesting… for batteries as a whole to reduce the most net carbon we should try and maximize the CROI of every battery cell produced. If we produce a battery cell and never use it, its CROI will be zero, and it will end up making climate change worse. On the other hand, if we fully use the battery cell to reduce carbon, its CROI will be strongly positive, helping mitigate climate change.


TSAM President and CEO of TSAM Andrew Kirby concurs with Dr. Pratt that a diverse approach or “diversity of drivetrains” is what is needed by the industry in the fight against carbon dioxide. He says that government incentives were needed in SA to encourage the adoption of new energy vehicles as well as making cost attractive to the market.

He added that the local market is not yet conducive for the full adoption of BEVs, citing infrastructural shortcomings related to energy generation as well as high import duties. Last year, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition published a Green Paper on incentivising the local manufacture and purchase of new energy vehicles. It is hoped that the policy would kick off soon after the white paper has been adopted in due course.


According to Kirby, total vehicle sales for the 2022 will continue the post-lockdown recovery and settle at 540 000 at the end of the year. “The breakdown for this year’s forecast includes 334 800 Passenger models, 178 198 Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV) as well as a total of 27 002 Medium and Heavy vehicles.

“The extrapolation (540 000 units) is based on a variety of socio-economic factors that do not bode well for the local motor industry, including the rising interest rate cycle, the strain taken by the agricultural sector due to heavy rainfall, the muted tourism recovery as well as possible market instability owing to ANC leadership elections and NBF wage negotiations,” says Kirby.

He concluded that his forecast was “constrained” and that the industry could even sell more vehicles if the economy performed better than expected or if issues in the automotive supply chain were to be resolved.


The last segment of SOMI 2022 featured a number of new vehicle reveals including Lexus LX, NX, LS 500 Hybrid, Toyota Hilux GR-S, Corolla Cross GR and RAV4 VX Hybrid. These were followed by a couple of motorsport announcement made by Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at TSAM, Leon Theron.

GR Cup Yaris Challenge: This initiative sees six local journalists battling it out on various racetracks in SA, all piloting the fabled Toyota GR Yaris. They include Jeanette Kok-Kritzinger, Mark Jones, Thomas Falkiner, Lerato Matebese, Sean Nurse and Ashley Oldfield.

“The GR Yaris really set the motoring press alight in 2021 and we felt that this is the perfect car to use for a media challenge race series – to show just what the GR Yaris is capable of, out-of-the-box. Thank you to our 6 journos for coming to play with us – we know you’re going to have a ball in this car,” says Theron.

GR Junior Academy: Here TSAM, together with motorsport veteran Leeroy Poulter, have handpicked some of the best junior drivers in motorsport to be groomed for future success. They range between the ages of nine and 15 years.

I’m really proud of because we get a chance to invest in the future of motorsport in the form of the GR Academy. The Gazoo Racing brand is really going from strength to strength and with this in mind, we thought it the perfect opportunity to start a GR Academy to foster young racing talent,” concludes Theron.