Toyota has hit the final nail in the coffin of Australia’s volume auto manufacturing industry with the announcement today that it will stop building cars in the country by the end of 2017. Rival Australian manufacturers Holden and Ford have also confirmed plans to stop building cars in Australia by the same date or earlier.
Toyota currently builds the Camry and a derivative known as the Aurion at its Altona plant located just outside the city of Melbourne. The site also produces four-cylinder engines, and this too will be ending in the coming years.
The operations have been profitable in the past though in recent years it has been making losses. After 2017, Toyota will still offer the Camry and Aurion models via import.
Toyota blamed a number of factors for its decision, including market and economic factors such as the high Australian dollar, high costs and low economies of scale. Low barriers to entry have also made imports much cheaper in the past decade, which has seen buyers shun local products and in turn the local industry.
"This is devastating news for all of our employees who have dedicated their lives to the company during the past 50 years," Toyota Australia boss Max Yasuda said in a statement. "While we have been undertaking the enormous task of transforming our business during the past two years, our people have joined us on the same journey, which makes it even more difficult to announce this decision.”
Yasuda said that approximately 2,500 employees directly involved with manufacturing will be impacted when the plant stops building cars in 2017. However, many more jobs in supporting industries are likely to be lost as well, such as at supplier firms. Some are estimating that more than 30,000 jobs will be adversely affected by the end of volume auto manufacturing in Australia.