Toyota has called it a day bringing an end to more than 50 years of local manufacturing in Australia.
Some 3000 people gathered at a ceremony at the Altona production plant in Melbourne to mark the occasion including current and former employees, suppliers, affiliate companies and officials from Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan.
From now on it means that any Toyota you buy in Australia will not have been built in Australia – it will be an import.
Toyota Australia boss Dave Buttner paid tribute to employees past and present for their ongoing commitment to ensuring the goal of ‘last car = best global car’.
Mr Buttner assured those who had lost their jobs because of the closure that the company continue to support them beyond today.
As a result of consolidation and the cessation of manufacturing, the total number of people employed by the company will be cut from 3900 people to approximately 1300 – in other words about 2600 people will lose their jobs.
“When we launched the DRIVE program in 2014, its purpose was to ensure you are all in the best possible position to find a new job in the future,” he said.
“These services will remain until the middle of next year.”
The company chose the occasion to announce the creation of the Toyota Community Trust, $32 million endowment fund, unveiled by Toyota Australia Chairman Max Yasuda during the closure ceremony.
The trust is designed to provide long-term benefits to the Australian community, in particular helping young Australians realise their potential.
Toyota plans to consolidate most of its operations to the Altona site, with the relocation of key business units and the development of a Centre of Excellence.
Mr Buttner said Altona would house expanded design and engineering capabilities, with a 150-strong team that is in great demand by Toyota affiliates around the globe.
“The Centre of Excellence will include a world-class training facility and other commercial initiatives that will enhance the company’s business and the community, he said.
Global President of Toyota Motor Corporation, Akio Toyoda, visited the Altona plant in August.
Today, via video, he once again expressed his gratitude for a job well done.
“I would like to express my sincere appreciation again to you, our dedicated employees, our suppliers, our customers, the local community and government who have all supported Toyota’s manufacturing development in Australia,” he said.
“From the bottom of my heart I wish you and your families happiness in the future. Thank you very much.”
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 by January 1, 2018.
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.
TOYOTA AUSTRALIA PRODUCT FACTS/HISTORY
• Australia played a prominent role in the emergence of Toyota as a global force. In the 1960s, Australia was the company’s largest export market with prominent nameplates including LandCruiser.
• Australia was the first country outside Japan to produce Toyota cars, starting with the Tiara in 1963 at a factory in Port Melbourne, now the site of the company’s corporate headquarters. Other famous car names to be produced in Australia by Toyota include Crown, Corona and Corolla.
• In late 1966, Australia was the first destination of Corolla exports from Japan, just one month after the car’s launch. Those cars went on sale the following year and a year later, in 1968, Australia became the first country outside Japan to build Corolla.
• As part of a joint venture with Holden, Corolla production was switched from Port Melbourne to a plant leased from Holden from 1989 until mid-1994. Toyota produced variants of its Corolla (Nova) and Camry (Apollo) for Holden.
• Toyota is the only vehicle manufacturer to build a hybrid car in Australia.
• Camry – built at Port Melbourne from 1987 and from Altona since 1995 – was by far the most successful model produced in this country. Total production to October 3, 2017 was 2,117,808 vehicles plus 50,296 hybrid variants that were built from 2009, totaling 2,168,104.
• Australia was the first country outside Japan to export Camry.
• The Camry was the tenth vehicle type produced by Toyota Australia in the 54 years of manufacturing since 1963.
• The end of manufacturing heralds a new era for the Camry nameplate, which will continue in Australia with the launch next month of an all-new fully imported range.
• Toyota has exported more vehicles from Australia than any other manufacturer – a total of 1,324,991 cars. The last export car was built on September 27. The largest export market was the Middle East, which took 1,245,914 Australian-built cars.
• Australia was the first country outside Japan to build Toyota engines, starting in 1979. Altona-built engines have been used in Camry for the local and export markets, including Thailand and Malaysia. The final tally was 2,535,963 locally built engines.
• In total, Australians have bought more than 6.5 million Toyota vehicles.
TOYOTA AUSTRALIA PRODUCTION HIGHLIGHTS
• Highest production year: 148,931 (2007)
• Highest production month: 15,355 (October 2007)
• Biggest export market: Middle East (1,245,914 cars)