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by Tim Beissmann

The first of the last of its kind – the 2015 Toyota Camry – has rolled down the assembly line at Toyota Australia’s Altona production plant in Melbourne today.

Today’s assembly ceremony represents the beginning of the end for the Australian-made Camry and the local automotive manufacturing industry as we know it, with Toyota set to close its factory around the same time as Holden at the end of 2017.

By that time, Ford Australia will have already shut the doors of its local production facilities, with the final Falcon to roll off the line in October 2016.

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Production of the heavily revised Toyota Camry kicks off almost exactly one year after the new-look model made its international premiere at the 2014 New York motor show, and a little more than three years after the current-generation car launched at the beginning of 2012.

Dubbed the “big minor change”, the 2015 Camry represents the most significant facelift in the iconic nameplate’s 28 years of production in Australia. It’s the product of a $108 million investment, which includes $23.6 million from the Federal Government and a contribution from the Victorian Government.

The update brings major exterior changes, with all panels except the roof unique to the updated model, meaning new doors, bonnet, boot, lights, bumpers, and more.

Australia’s updated Camry gets only material changes inside, however, missing out on the more significant style-focused elements adopted by the model shown in the US last year.

Local customers are expected to get at least some of the newly developed advanced safety systems offered in the US version, however, which include features such as a pre-collision warning system, lane departure warning, and radar-based cruise control.

The 2015 Toyota Camry is powered by the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, while the 2015 Camry Hybrid also carries over its 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain. A number of minor upgrades to both drivetrains are expected to be announced next month when Toyota confirms full pricing and specification details of the updated model.

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The Toyota Camry has been the top-selling mid-sized car in Australia for the past 21 years. The company sold 22,044 Camrys across the country last year, giving it a commanding 44.5 per cent share of its sub-$60,000 medium car segment.

The local figures are dwarfed by exports, however, with more than twice as many produced locally and shipped to the Middle East, New Zealand, the South Pacific, and for the first time, Thailand.

Toyota Australia will build approximately 90,000 Camry and V6-powered Aurion models this year, and export approximately 70 per cent of those.

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Unlike the Ford Falcon and Territory that will be discontinued entirely and the Holden Commodore that will cease to exist in the rear-wheel-drive form that we know it today, the Toyota Camry as we know it will live on into 2018 and beyond in a familiar format.

At that time, the current, locally-produced model will be replaced by a new-generation Camry sedan, potentially imported from Thailand to take advantage of the Free Trade Agreement that exists between the two countries.

Toyota Australia currently employs approximately 3900 workers, 2500 of which are in manufacturing roles. The total workforce will be cut to 1300 when manufacturing stops at the end of 2017.




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