Toyota to end Australian manufacturing in 2017Mon, 10 Feb 2014 00:00:00 -0800
When Holden announced that it would no longer build cars in Australia after 2017, that country’s flagging automotive industry was effectively put on notice -- Mitsubishi had stopped building cars there in 2008, and Ford says its two plants there will close in October 2016.
Now Toyota has announced that it has no option but to end vehicle Australian vehicle production. Like Holden, it will close its factories there in 2017.
Thanks in part to the country’s strong dollar, building cars in Australia has become a money-losing proposition; over the past 10 years, Toyota says it has lost nearly $1.6 billion operating in Australia, despite government support to the tune of nearly $1.1 billion. It’s the same story Holden told as it announced its plans to end Australian production.
Toyota kicked off its Australian manufacturing operations 1963, when car-assembly firm Australian Motor Industries began building the Toyota Tiara. Toyota eventually took control of AMI, purchasing a controlling interest in the company in 1968. By 2012, the Japanese automaker was building more than 100,000 cars per year in the country. 73 percent were exported to other markets.
The automaker’s current Australian-market lineup looks much like ours, with mainstays like the Prius, Corolla and Camry and some vehicles, like the Kluger and Rukus, that are sold here wearing different names (the former is the Toyota Highlander, the latter the Scion xB). Basically, there isn’t anything built and sold in Australia that isn’t also built somewhere else.
Still, the decision to end Australian manufacturing is expected to impact 2,500 Toyota workers plus up to 50,000 in related fields -- and it will spell the end of an industry that stretched back more than a century.
By Graham Kozak