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Toyota ends 50 years in Oz

2014-02-10 10:22

END OF THE ROAD? Australia's auto industry is facing a complete shutdown in manufacturing. Toyota is now the third carmaker to announce it will pull out of Oz after Ford and General Motors from 2015. Image: AFP

TOKYO, Japan - Toyota is to close its vehicle production plant in Australia despite appeals by prime minister Tony Abbott - a move that will leave the country with no auto manufacturing .

Ford has already announced it will cease production in May 2016 and General Motors (Holden) will cease production during 2017 whereas Toyota SA recently announced a R1-billion injection for production here of the new Toyota Corolla.

Japanese auto giant Toyota, the world's most prolific vehicle-maker, said production of vehicles and engines would stop at the end of 2017 after 50 years in the country, putting 3900 jobs at its Altona plant in a Melbourne suburb and another 150 jobs at a separate design facility, on the line.

'COMPLETE COLLAPSE'

Prime minister Tony Abbott had previously sought talks with Toyota to try to persuade it to keep its plants open and prevent a complete collapse of Australia's auto manufacturing industry.

The news comes just months after General Motors' subsidiary GM Holden said it would shut down its plants in Australia by 2017 with the loss of 2900 jobs. Toyota said on Monday (Feb 10 2014)  it would discuss more details at a news meda conference in Melbourne, according to a Tokyo-based spokeswoman.

SEVERAL FACTORS

Toyota's president Akio Toyoda said in a statement: "We believed we should continue producing vehicles in Australia and Toyota and its workforce there made every effort. However, various negative factors such as an extremely competitive market and a strong Australian dollar, together with forecasts of a reduction in the total scale of vehicle production in Australia, have forced us to make this painful decision."

The automaker added that for those "who will be affected by this decision, Toyota intends to provide the best support it can, including employment assistance".

Toyota started vehicle assembly in Australia in the early 1960's and still produces its top-selling Camry sedan and other models in that country.

Wheels24 has asked Toyota SA, which recently received a R1-billion injection to start production of the 2014 Toyota Corolla, for comment on how the Australian closure might affect its operation in Prospecton, Durban.

Toyota SA said: "Please note that this is not an official statement issued from Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) as we are not authorised to comment on this particular subject.

"That said, we are aware that it was a difficult decision to cease operations in Australia after 50 years of production. As per the official press release issued by Toyota Australia this was attributed to a strong Australian Dollar and declining production base.

This will not impact on TSAM as there are no plans at this stage for South Africa to become a production base for models in Australia. No parts, apart from a few accessory items, are currently sourced from that region either."
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