Toyota to shut Australian car manufacturing operations
TOYOTA has fallen on the Australian car manufacturing sword.
Toyota Australia will follow Ford and Holden in closing it's Australian manufacturing operations during 2017.
Toyota will still sell cars in Australia, but will become a national sales and distribution company. About 2500 people will lose their jobs.
Workers at the Altona plant build the Camry, Camry Hybrid and Aurion.
Toyota Australia boss Max Yasuda said in a letter to staff that the updated Camry will be the final Toyota-badged car to be produced in Australia.
"I know we did everything that we could to make our business stronger during the past two years," the letter said.
"We left no stone unturned."
In a statement, he said:
"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.
"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
"We did everything that we could to transform our business, but the reality is that there are too many factors beyond our control that make it unviable to build cars in Australia.
"Although the company has made profits in the past, our manufacturing operations have continued to be loss making despite our best efforts.
"Our focus will now be to work with our employees, suppliers, government and the unions as we transition to a national sales and distribution company. Support services will be available to our employees and we will do everything that we can to minimise the impact of this decision on our employees and suppliers."
Mr Yasuda said that Toyota was also committed to providing support to the industry as it prepares for the end of vehicle manufacturing in Australia.
"We will work with our key stakeholders to determine how to provide the best support to our employees, suppliers and local communities during the coming years," Mr Yasuda said.
"Not only do we need to ensure our local suppliers and employees can plan for their future, we also need to make sure that we continue to produce high quality vehicles and engines for our domestic and export customers."
Toyota Australia will continue to be involved in its local communities and employ thousands of people both directly and indirectly via its extensive dealership network.
It is the company's intention to import the Camry and Aurion vehicles beyond 2017, along with the entire range of Toyota passenger and commercial vehicles.
Ford has committed to close its Victoria-based plant in 2016, Holden will do the same with its South Australian factory in 2017.
Last October Toyota Australia announced plans to offer 100 voluntary redundancies at its Altona manufacturing plant.
That was due to a drop in export orders.
Leading up to 2018, Toyota said it needed to reduce the cost of building each car by $3800.
Achieving that figure was a challenge with high wage costs, exacerbated by Holden and Ford's decision to leave - putting additional pressures on parts suppliers.
As part of cost cutting, Toyota Australia had moved to alter workplace agreements. But in December, action in the Federal Court has resulted in Toyota Australia not being able to proceed with its planned employee vote on the proposed changes to its Workplace Agreement terms and conditions.
The move came after four employees lodged a complaint with the Federal Court that Toyota Australia could not vary its agreement until it has expired in March 2015.