Toyota's Brilliant South African CEO to retire

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Dr Johan van Zyl will be retiring from leading Toyota Motor Europe. 

Toyota dominates South Africa’s vehicle market and the person responsible for much of that is retiring, soon.

Dr Johan van Zyl will serve his last day as a senior member of Toyota’s global staff, on 1 April (and no, it is not a joke).

Despite humble beginnings in Springs, Guateng there is no questioning Dr van Zyl’s credentials or his influence on the South African automotive industry.

He joined Toyota in 1993, as the transition to greater internationalisation of the local automotive environment was starting. Dr van Zyl’s initial speciality was marketing where he worked in various capacities, before becoming CEO of Toyota South Africa, in 2003.

Between becoming CEO and then taking responsibility for Toyota’s African presence in 2009, Dr van Zyl oversaw a terrific growth and product development story for the Japanese brand’s South African chapter.

In the period 2003-2009 Toyota transitioned away from traditional passenger cars to its enormously successful SUV business. The Fortuner was one of Toyota's most important projects, launched locally, under the guidance of Dr van Zyl. 

Despite a punishing travel schedule and having to report to Toyota headquarters in Japan, despite being in a Brussels office, Dr Johan van Zyl has excelled. To ascend to a senior managing office position at Toyota, whilst not being Japanese, is exceedingly rare.

Although Dr Johan van Zyl has less than a month left in his position a Toyota international, he will not be lost to the company, especially its local operations.

Toyota South Africa has confirmed that Dr van Zyl will remain in his position as chairman of the company, after he retires from international Toyota corporate life. His skills and insight should serve Toyota South Africa with value, as the company prepares to start producing its first hybrid vehicles at the Prospecton plan, outside Durban.

Further Reading

Toyota Hilux Raider (2021) Specs & Price

Toyota Corolla Cross to be built in SA

Toyota Fortuner (2021) Review

2020 Toyota Fortuner: 5 Key Changes

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