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by Tim Beissmann

Australia’s largest automotive brand, Toyota, has posted an after-tax loss of $32.6 million for the 2011/12 financial year ending March 31.

The loss comes on the back of a net $1 billion drop in sales, which Toyota Australia attributes largely to the devastating natural disasters that affected its production facilities in two key regions in Asia last year: the Japan earthquake in March and the Thailand floods in October.

Supply of vehicles and parts to Toyota Australia was limited for most of 2011 and saw combined domestic sales of Toyota and Lexus vehicles fall more than 30,000 units from 217,365 to 187,328. Total revenue fell from $8.27 billion to $7.25 billion as a result.

The announcement of the loss brings to a close a difficult year for Toyota Australia. In January, the local manufacturer axed 350 workers from its Altona production plant, blaming the difficult market conditions and the high Australian dollar.

Toyota Australia president and CEO Max Yasuda said the 2011/12 result was further evidence the company needed to change the way it operates to strengthen its local operations.

“While we cannot control external factors like natural disasters or the strong Australian dollar, there are things we can do to make Toyota Australia leaner and stronger to create sustainable and profitable business operations,” Yasuda said.

“We have had to make immediate change during recent months and adjust our manufacturing workforce.

“This was an extremely difficult decision to make but was absolutely critical if we want to strengthen our foundation and grow in the future.”

Despite facing a number of challenges including the high Australian dollar and intensifying market competition, Yasuda believes Toyota’s range of new and refreshed models like the Camry, Aurion, Prius C, Prius V and 86 sports car will help the company achieve an improved fiscal result in the 2012/13 financial year.

“We are expecting the release of these new vehicles will translate to an increase in sales and solidify Toyota’s position as the number one automotive brand in Australia,” he said.

Toyota has made a strong start to the 2012/13 financial year from a sales perspective. Across April and May 2012, a total of 38,119 Toyota and Lexus vehicles have been sold in Australia, up 49.6 per cent compared with the same two-month period in 2011.

Prior to 2011, Toyota Australia was returning consistently strong financial results, with combined after-tax profits totalling $473.5 million in the previous three financial years.

Today’s announcement from Toyota comes a little over a month after Australia’s two other local manufacturers, Ford and Holden, revealed their financial results.

Ford Australia posted its largest ever annual loss, plummeting $274 million into the red in 2011, while Holden enjoyed an $89.7 million profit – a figure identical to the level of taxpayer funding the car maker received last year.




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