Tim O'Brien | Dec 6, 2012

TOYOTA COMMITS TO AUSTRALIAN MANUFACTURING FUTURE

The dollar was supposed to drop today. That’s the accepted economic wisdom on a day following a downward revision of interest rates.

But it didn’t drop. The Aussie dollar is now the third most-traded currency on the planet. Our strong economy – ‘strong’ in a relative sense: because most of the rest of the world is struggling to stay out of the toilet – is to blame.

And for every day that the dollar stays high, Australia’s manufacturing sector takes a little more pain.

"I am a true believer in local car making,” - Toyota Australia President, Max Yasuda
"I am a true believer in local car making,” - Toyota Australia President, Max Yasuda
Full marks then to Toyota Australia who, in a vote of confidence in the future of Australian manufacturing, today opened its new state-of-the-art engine plant in Altona in Melbourne’s west.

The new plant, opened by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, will produce more than 100,000 2.5-litre four-cylinder engines per year for Toyota’s locally built Camry and Camry Hybrid sedans, and for export to Toyota plants in Thailand and Malaysia.

Toyota Australia President and CEO, Mr Max Yasuda said the official opening was “a proud day for the Australian car industry”.

"This is a great day for Toyota Australia. The official opening of the new engine plant is part of our overall mission to transform our operations and build a more sustainable business," Mr Yasuda said.

Toyota’s new Altona engine plant makes Australia one of only four countries in Toyota’s global footprint to produce the AR four-cylinder engine. Its opening also makes Toyota the first Australian car manufacturer to produce petrol-electric hybrid engines.

"I am a true believer in local car making,” Mr Yasuda said. “Building a new engine plant in Australia is at the heart of our manufacturing strategy.”

Echoing recent comments by Holden boss Mike Devereux on the importance of “co-investment” to the future of vehicle manufacturing in this country, Mr Yasuda said that "an ongoing partnership between local car makers, the government and suppliers is fundamental for ensuring Australian industry can compete”.

Mr Yasuda acknowledged the support of the Federal and State Governments who contributed $63 million to the commissioning of the new engine plant under the Rudd-Government’s Green Car Innovation Fund.

"The new engine plant is a significant milestone for Toyota Australia. It enables us to maintain our workforce and further develop our technologies, skills and products so we can continue building engines and cars in Australia for many years to come,” Mr Yasuda said.

“Many years to come…” – those words will bring cheer in equal measure to Prime Minister Gillard and Victorian Premier Baillieu, as well as Toyota’s Altona workforce.

The plant will go into full production from 14 January 2013 and produce approximately 450 engines per day.

Toyota Australia has been building cars in Australia for almost 50 years, has now notched up one million in exports sales, and by year’s end will have built its three millionth locally-manufactured vehicle.

Tim O'Brien - TMR Managing Editor

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