Johannesburg - Toyota is increasing its focus on African
consumers as private sector growth reduces its dependence on government
business, its top executive on the continent said on Monday.
The Japanese automaker, which has a presence in all 54 African
countries after entering South Sudan last year, expects the east and West
African auto markets to grow by up to 5% this year, Toyota Africa CEO Johan van
Zyl told the Reuters Africa Investment Summit.
"In many countries now consumer marketing is becoming
very important," he said, adding that in many African countries Toyota
previously dealt almost exclusively with governments.
The world's top-selling automaker sold 237 000 vehicles on
the continent last year, giving it a 14% market share.
But it faces growing competition from Chinese and Indian
rivals like Chery Automobile and Tata Motors, which arguably have more
experience in building and marketing budget cars in emerging markets.
However, van Zyl said Toyota was also focused on affordable
cars and its Etios brand, launched in India in 2010, is targeted at
The company is selling about 2 000 Etios cars a month in
Africa, where consumers are concerned about quality and durability as well as
cost, he added.
"People tend to think if you sell things to Africa, you
can sell them inferior things. I think that will be the biggest mistake you can
make," he said.
"The consumer in Africa is as much aware of quality
than anybody else."