TOYOTA’S decision to shut its Camry factory in 2017 will bring the Australian car manufacturing industry to a halt after more than 100 years, and leave up to 50,000 workers in supporting industries out of a job, in addition to the 2500 at Toyota.
The world’s biggest car maker — and the number one brand in Australia for the past 11 years in a row — will join Ford and Holden and become solely a vehicle importer for the first time since 1968, when it began building Corollas locally.
The Altona plant on the western outskirts of Melbourne is believed to be only the third factory Toyota has closed globally.
The company says the decision was made reluctantly because Australia was the first country outside Japan where it assembled cars.
The media shy boss of Toyota Australia, Max Yasuda, said he was “devastated” by the news.
He blamed the decision on low tariffs, new Free Trade Agreements, the high Australian dollar and above average labour costs, just as Ford and Holden had said months earlier.
Privately, however, Mr Yasuda told his peers behind closed doors “If Holden goes, we’ll go”.
The die was cast late last year when unions won a Federal Court battle blocking Toyota’s request for a vote on proposed changes to Toyota worker conditions.
Mr Yasuda travelled to Japan late last year hoping to have the deal signed, to give the Altona factory a stay of execution from his Japanese hierarchy.
When Mr Yasuda turned up empty handed, the fate of Toyota Australia’s factory was sealed. It was only a matter of timing before the announcement was made.
“This is devastating news for all of our employees who have dedicated their lives to the company during the past 50 years,” Mr Yasuda said…. see more