As from next year, the South African subsidiary of motor company Toyota is expected to export its locally produced Toyota Corollas from Durban to Europe - a move set to boost the economy of KwaZulu-Natal.
The decision was taken following a meeting on Wednesday in Tokyo, Japan between the provincial government and Toyota representatives.
At the meeting with KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele, the vice chairperson of Toyota Motor Corporation, Katsuhiro Nakagawa said Toyota South Africa would produce Corollas specifically to be exported to Europe.
Mr Nakagawa announced that about 50 engineers had already been sent to South Africa to help with the manufacturing of the vehicles.
"Toyota is determined to produce more vehicles in South Africa which can be exported to other countries.
"The exporting of vehicles from South Africa to other countries is very important for South Africa's economy. The automotive industry is also important for the development of South Africa," he said.
He said they also wanted an increased presence in Japanese automotive parts suppliers in South Africa as the country was considered to be the gateway to the rest of Africa.
"We want to make our South African plant more competitive compared to Toyota plants in other countries," he said.
In a bid to ensure the competitiveness of their South African plant, he acknowledged that the training of workers would be important to achieve this.
"If we skill more workers, more automotive parts supplier companies will come to South Africa".
He explained that they planned to establish a Toyota Training School in South Africa, which would benefit the company's employees and create a much needed skills base for growth.
"We want to listen to the voice of the workers to be able to produce more vehicles, more efficiently and effectively. Training, development and education of our workforce must be intensified," said Mr Nakagawa.
The production of the latest model of the Toyota Corolla in South Africa is currently proceeding well and will be launched in August this year.
"However, we are trying hard to introduce new models of Toyota to be produced is South Africa as well," he said.
Premier Ndebele appreciated the confidence shown by the company to South Africa, particularly KwaZulu-Natal.
"We appreciate the new investment of more than R4 billion at the plant at Prospecton in Durban. However, we would like to see Toyota producing other automotive components in KwaZulu-Natal as well," he said.
Mr Ndebele said they would welcome the development of an Automotive Supplier Park in the province.
He said it was important to accelerate training of the current and future workforce.
"Continuous training is very important. We have to train all the time. For the market in South Africa, the market in Africa and the market elsewhere, training is important," he said.