Generally, one would expect an environmental award in motor retail dealership to go to a modern facility, probably built in the last five years. However, East Rand Toyota has shown that this is not a prerequisite for success and that, in fact, it is people rather than facilities that make the real difference and provide a winning recipe.

East Rand Toyota, located on North Rand Road, next to the East Rand Mall in Boksburg, was built almost 20 years ago, in 2001, but it has been continually updated in terms of Toyota’s national corporate identity requirements and the increasing size of the business. There was a big revamp in 2004 when the parts and Automark facilities were increased in size and the Lexus franchise added.

“Although we are very proud of the way we have upgraded the dealership to keep pace with the changes in the automotive retail trading environment, the reason for our success in the evaluation for the 2019 Toyota SA Motors’ Vice President’s Environmental Award was the attitude, commitment and passion of all our team members,” explained Johann Fölscher, the Dealer Principal at East Rand Toyota.

Folscher’s view about the enthusiastic and participative support this environmental project enjoys from his staff was backed up wholeheartedly by Carel Volschenk, the Divisional Director for Toyota, Lexus, and Hino at CFAO Motors, which was formerly known as Unitrans.

“We, at CFAO Motors, have an excellent track record for outstanding teamwork in our dealerships and are fully supportive of Toyota’s environmental initiatives,” said Volschenk. “In fact, Unitrans Motors won the first Toyota environmental awards for dealer groups in 2010 and 2011. We were also the first dealership in the Toyota network to be fully ECO-3 Advanced compliant and have been raising the bar ever since.

“CFAO Motors, the largest vehicle distributor on the African continent, is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho – so, being part of the global Toyota family means it is very aware of the need for good governance in terms of environmental matters. Therefore, it is incredibly supportive of eco projects at its dealerships throughout Africa,” added Volschenk.

Charles Classen and Gregory Molise, who drive the environmental programme for Toyota SA Motors through the Service Division, explained that the ultimate driver of the local programme is the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, which was launched globally in October 2015. The objective is to make Toyota the most environmentally responsible manufacturer in the world.

Each dealership has a chief environmental officer with the seniority and correct reporting line that he or she can take any transgression to the dealer principal and is able to institute immediate remedial action.

The main tool used to manage progress is the Dealer Environmental Risk Audit Programme (DERAP). Dealers have to self-audit twice a year and provide monthly Environmental Performance Indicators to enable the head office to compile a monthly report. These reports cover subjects such as water and electricity usage, treatment of hazardous waste (used oil, brake fluid, coolant, and air conditioning gas) and other waste as well as any possible oil spills or other environmental contraventions.

The consolidated report from TSAM’s dealer input is then sent to Toyota’s environmental department in Japan for evaluation and possible feedback

Service Manager Danie Smith, who only joined East Rand Toyota in 2017, is the person who took the lead in the drive to win the environmental award in a three-year timeframe.

Among the new initiatives to improve East Rand Toyota’s environmental ratings were the installation of a 1kW solar plant on the roof, together with low energy LED light bulbs, and strict controls on water usage, which includes using steam cleaning on the pre-owned vehicles as well as very disciplined sorting of waste into a number of collection bins at source.

“We are now aiming to increase the solar plant’s output and switching to steam cleaning for the 60-70 vehicles serviced daily to further decrease water consumption,” added Fölscher.

East Rand Toyota is also deeply involved with its local community and this extends to environmental projects at the local primary and high schools as well as a successful vegetable-growing project at a nearby informal settlement. The plan this year is to erect a windmill to enhance the vegetable output in an eco-friendly way.

John Thomson, Vice President – Service at TSAM, says that Toyota is keen to challenge other vehicle franchises in South Africa to get involved in similar dealership environmental projects to show that the local motor industry has a caring attitude.

“Environmental programmes such as those championed by Toyota create a win-win situation for all involved and that is why we are continually lifting the bar in our very visible dealer programmes,” said Thomson. “We believe it will be even more effective if the other OEMs take up this opportunity to enhance the image of the local motor industry as an entity that makes caring for the environment a high operational priority.”