Toyota, Australia’s biggest-volume car-maker and exporter, has announced the date when it will close its Camry and Aurion factory in the western Melbourne suburb of Altona.
The date has been confirmed as October 3 this year, which is in line with expectations. This means Toyota’s local plant will shut its doors 17 days before Holden closes its factory near Adelaide, leaving the Lion brand as the last one standing.
Toyota Australia says it will continue operating both day (am) and night (pm) shifts until the final closure date. This means that total volume production of 61,000 vehicles for the year, made up of 26,600 domestic and 34,400 exports, is met.
Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner said the company remained committed to supporting employees throughout the transition period and beyond.
"Our priority over the remaining months is to continue to support our employees in every way possible so that they are well prepared for the future," he said.
"We remain extremely proud of our rich manufacturing history which spans over 50 years. Our employees are committed to producing vehicles of the highest quality as we work towards our goal of 'last car = best global car'."
As part of Toyota Australia's transition to a national sales and distribution company, the consolidation of all corporate functions from Sydney to Melbourne will take effect from the start of 2018.
As a result of this ‘consolidation’ and the closure of manufacturing, the number of direct Toyota Australia employees will reduce from 3900 people to approximately 1300. From 2018 onwards, Ford Australia will be the nation’s largest auto OEM thanks to its Victorian engineering and design hubs.
Above: the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry, revealed in Detroit
Toyota Australia head office will continue to be based in Port Melbourne and most of the Altona manufacturing site will be retained for new and relocated functions, the company said. It will expand on the specifics soon.
Once the Australian plant has closed, Toyota will begin importing a new generation of the Camry, long a fleet staple and easily Australia’s top-selling mid-sized vehicle, from Japan. Toyota says this car will arrive before the end of 2017.
The new Camry will come with four-cylinder petrol, petrol-electric hybrid and V6 forms — in place of the Aurion — and sport a more dynamic design and, in all probability, a slightly higher pricer.
This later point is not confirmed, though Toyota has openly operated on quite slim margins in order to keep enough scale to see Altona through to the originally proposed shut date. Toyota announced its intention to close Altona in Februry 2014, shortly after Ford and Holden did the same.