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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota Australia reinforced today that is under “unprecedented pressure” to be the sole local vehicle manufacturer from 2018 following the exits of Ford and Holden.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb says the company is “deep” in its study into the viability of its local manufacturing future, and is only months away from announcing whether it will produce the next-generation Camry from 2017/2018 or cease local production at that time.

“Holden’s announcement at the end of last year put unprecedented pressure on Toyota and our ability to be the sole manufacturer, but that study is deep underway as we speak,” Cramb said.

“In order to secure that status we need to earn the next-generation of Camry with export – that hasn’t changed. In terms of that goal it’s the same. In terms of the timing of the announcement it’s the same.

“We still need to compete with other plants around the globe for the rights to build that vehicle.”

Body Shop welding of cars, Toyota Australia's Altona manufacturing plant

Complicating the issue is the Federal Court’s December ruling blocking Toyota Australia from making changes to its workplace agreement as part of its broad target to reduce the cost of each vehicle it produces by $3800 by 2018.

Cramb said the company was “disappointed” with the ruling and confirmed it has appealed the decision.

The appeal is set to be held in the second quarter of this year – around the same time as an announcement of its manufacturing future is due.

Also up in the air is the future of the V6-powered Camry-based Aurion, with Cramb offering only that the company “haven’t made any announcements on that at this point in time”.

Aurion sales slumped 24.6 per cent in 2013 to just 6839 units. The large car was outsold by the four-cylinder Camry (24,860) at a rate of almost four units to one last year.

Cramb’s comments came as Toyota announced the Corolla small car, imported from Japan, has claimed the title of Australia’s most popular new car, with 43,498 sales in 2013.




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