Once in a while, a company produces they are proud of and gives it a name and then the market gives it a different name. This usually happens when the market has embraced a product and owns it and takes it for what it provides them and a cultured name is usually given to such a product. This is the story of the Toyota Sesfikile, a minibus by Toyota Corporation, also known as the Toyota Quantum.
The Toyota Sesfikile is a South African brand name, a minibus that has succeeded the well known Toyota HiAce Siyaya taxi. This car was produced at Toyota’s Durban plant. About 80% of South Africa’s taxis are in the form of the popular Siyaya brand, and the need to replace them was inevitable due to the South African programme of Taxi Recapitalization programme.
Based on the technology on the Toyota minivan and minibus, the new Toyota Sesfikile, in the form of the Toyota quantum first hit the market in 2005 and ever since then it has gained ground on the market. It is recorded that an estimate of 800 units of the Toyota Quantum are being sold each month and sales are expected to continue under the taxi recapitalization programme, as more of the Quantum are availed on the market and the older Siyaya fade away.
Often taken to be a 15 seater, the minibus offers seating capacity of 14 occupants. It comes with 3-point lap seatbelts for the front two seats and 2-point lap belts for all other seats. Provided also as a safety feature is an ABS system, supported by a Brake Assist system.
The Sesfikile has top ratings for its safety features, as testified by Toyota; “that they developed technology designed to absorb and disperse crash impact energy”. Toyota says that they used the most advanced computer aided engineering to optimize this structure and the door impact beams to limit intrusions.
Other functionality features in design include the mechanism that helps prevent the brake booster assembly from pushing into the steering column and the driver's footwell in the event of a severe frontal impact. It has become known that the wide body version of the Quantum, upon which the Sesfikile is based, performed better that its semi cab-over competitors. The Toyota Sesfikile comes on a powerful 2.7 liter engine, with the ability to produce 111kW power and 241Nm torque. It has received safety and functional upgrade that has resulted in the model meeting the latest regulatory requirements as stipulated under the Taxi Recapitalization programme.
In total the Toyota Quantum minibus/ panel van has enjoyed an unrivaled market leadership in South Africa, with sales records reaching thousands of units, with the greater number being the Sesfikile variant. The subdued demand and success of the Toyota Sesfikile has led Toyota Motor Corporation to upgrade the minibus to a 15 seater bus. In order to provide a much more comfortable minibus, the vinyl seat covers have replaced the cloth seat covers. This increase in seating capacity has contributed to an estimated 7% operating efficiency as more benefits are realized on the minibus. Additional modifications resulted in the removal of the reclining function of the rear seats or and removal of headrests, which functions have become redundant in the minibus application.
The presence of the Toyota Sesfikile on the market and its influence so far, backed by the national programme brings no doubt that the Toyota Sesfikile will imprint its own mark on the market, a mark that will last, just like most real brands.