Chairman and former CEO of Toyota South Africa (TSA) Dr Johan van Zyl has passed away due to complications caused by Covid-19. Dr van Zyl died on 31 July 2021 at the age of 63 in a Pretoria hospital. "He had an uncanny sense of knowing just what consumers want and he was able to instil this thinking in all his colleagues," TSA said in a statement.
Dr van Zyl began his career with the company in 1993 as director for vehicle sales and dealer network. He was appointed president and COO of TSA in 2002, and president and CEO in 2003. In June 2009, Dr van Zyl was appointed as a managing officer at Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), CEO of Africa region in April 2013, and senior managing officer in April 2017.
In 2015 he took on the role of president and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe (TME) until his retirement in early 2021. "It was noted that he left an indelible mark there too as, under his tenure, sales in Europe passed the one-million mark in 2019 for the first time in 10 years. On his return to South Africa, Dr van Zyl remained chairman.
He will be remembered for the most was his humanity - his ability to remember the name of each and every person he came into contact with, his self-deprecating sense of humour that immediately put everyone at ease, and his comprehensive wealth of general knowledge," said TSA.
Andrew Kirby, the current president and CEO of Toyota South Africa Motors, expressed his thoughts on the passing of Dr van Zyl: “We have lost a much-loved and admired leader who will be remembered for his leadership and success of both Toyota South Africa and Toyota Motor Europe. He was also an amazing human being – for those of us who were fortunate to work closely with Johan, we will always remember him as an aspiring mentor, who had a story to share on any topic and who truly cared about people. His tireless efforts for our company, industry and country will be sorely missed.”