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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota Australia has become the first local car maker to export one million vehicles.

The Altona-based manufacturer confirmed its one millionth export vehicle was shipped to the Middle East earlier this month, 26 years after Toyota Australia exported its first vehicle, a Toyota Corona wagon, to New Zealand in 1986.

In 1996, the Japanese company’s local division expanded its export program to the Middle East, and now ships the Toyota Camry, Toyota Camry Hybrid and Toyota Aurion sedans to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, as well as New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands.

Toyota Australia executive director of manufacturing Chris Harrod said the export milestone was a significant achievement for the local manufacturer and just reward for the effort invested into the program over four decades.

“We are extremely proud of our ability to build cars that not only suit the needs of our local customers but also those in the Middle East and our other export markets,” Harrod said.

“The Australian-built Camry and Aurion are trusted brands in our export markets and we are known for producing high quality and reliable vehicles.”

Although the Australian automotive industry is facing significant challenges, Harrod said it was important that Toyota continued to focus on its export program and explore new opportunities as part of its overall business strategy.

Toyota Australia exported 59,943 Camry and Aurion vehicles in 2011, and is on track to eclipse that in 2012, with 42,142 vehicles shipped overseas in the first seven months of this year.

The milestone announcement from Toyota comes just days after Ford Australia loaded 100 diesel-powered Ford Territory Titanium SUVs on a boat to Thailand in a program the company’s president, Bob Graziano, says provides “an important base on which to potentially build further exports”.

The export story of the year belongs to Holden, however, which confirmed in May that it would ship the Holden VF Commodore-based Chevrolet SS performance sedan to North America in the second half of 2013.




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