The harsh reality of how climate change impacts the motor retail industry is undeniable after Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) announced that only 500 units of all the water-damaged vehicles will be retailed.
The remainder of the thousands of vehicles damaged by the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal, will be scrapped.
TSAM had to suspend production at its plant at Prospecton, south of Durban, due to the flooding and can’t say when it will resume.
This plant assembled 10 198 light commercial vehicles in March 2022 and sold over 10 000 vehicles locally in a month.
Martlé Keyter, MISA’s Chief Executive Officer: Operations, says TSAM’s contribution helped the industry to break through the threshold of new vehicle sales last month. Domestic new vehicle sales was at 50 607 units for the first time since October 2019.
According to the provincial government it would cost R17 billion to fix the flood damage across the province.
More than 430 people died and infrastructure destroyed after some areas recorded over 300 mm rain in 24 hours. This is about a third of the annual rainfall in KwaZulu-Natal.
Eight weather stations recorded new rainfall records. In Margate, on the South Coast, the recorded rainfall of 311 mm doubled its previous record of 25 years.
It left highways flooded, while bridges and other key infrastructure were washed away by the heavy storms.
This is the second deadliest flood in the Durban area in the last decade.
Over the Easter weekend of 2019, the area recorded 165 mm of rain in 24 hours. This resulted in floods that killed more than 85 people.
Scientists have warned, in numerous studies, that extreme rainfall in the region is becoming more common because of global warming and classified Durban as one of the vulnerable coastal cities.
The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry called on authorities, in 2019, to tackle infrastructure issues urgently, including carrying out “a serious review of storm water drainage systems.”
The overpopulated eThekwini Municipality did not have the funds nor resources to address these concerns.
The year 2020 was one of the hottest in the world and data showed South Africa’s temperatures increased by 1.6°C in 2020.
Overall, South Africa’s temperatures in 2021 were milder than in previous years, but they’re still increasingly getting warmer – in line with global trends.
Last year President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa identified three key priorities for climate action, including increased production of electric vehicles. According to him, the state will focus on reducing carbon emissions at Eskom and fast-tracking plans for a green-hydrogen economy.
This is all included in the Climate Change Bill that was published in the Government Gazette on 1 October last year and introduced to Parliament in February this year.
Keyter says that Government’s ambitious plans does not keep track with the reality that electric vehicles can’t be the solution, not until Eskom can supply to meet the demand. The reality is loadshedding has become the norm.
“Climate change requires rapid, major and systemic economic changes, in essence a just transition. The recent flooding in Durban showed us time is running out,” says Keyter.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) warned in 2019 that the organisation is already witnessing the loss of lives and livelihoods because of extreme weather events and changing seasons.
“There are no jobs on a dead planet, but it’s more than just a slogan.”