TOYOTA AUSTRALIA today unveiled the 2010 Hybrid Camry at a ceremony at the company's Altona assembly plant.
Today's ceremony, which was attended by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Victorian Premier John Brumby and the Japanese ambassador Takaahi Kojima, marks the official start of full Hybrid Camry production, with sales to commence in February next year.
The most technologically advanced car to be built at its Altona assembly plant in Melbourne, securing approval for local manufacture of the Hybrid Camry was hailed as a major coup for Toyota Australia.
Senior State and Federal Government officials and Toyota Australia executives had negotiated with Toyota Japan since 2007 to bring Hybrid Camry production to Australia, eventually getting the green light in June 2008.
With production volumes estimated to top 10,000 Hybrid Camrys each year (of which the Victorian Government has already committed to buying 2000), Toyota Australia sees the start of local hybrid production as a boon for the company.
"The support of Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan was a great vote of confidence in the ability of our company," Toyota Australia President and CEO, Max Yasuda said.
"We want to build a sustainable industry that provides innovative and attractive vehicles for our customers and a technology and manufacturing base that attracts on-going investment."
"We will have the unique advantage in our market of producing and selling a four-cylinder hybrid family car.
"It will enable every household across the country to have the opportunity of having a locally built hybrid in their driveway."
After Japan, Thailand and the United States, Australia is the fourth country to commence production of the Hybrid Camry.
Australia is also the fifth country in the world to build a mass-market hybrid car and, according to Prime Minister Kevid Rudd, local assembly of the Hybrid Camry will bring many benefits to the Australian car industry.
"This is the beginning of a whole new era in Australian motoring," Mr Rudd said.
"The Australian Government is pleased to support the production of the Toyota Hybrid Camry in Australia in partnership with the Victorian Government.
"It's good for the environment and critical for supporting jobs in the automotive sector, jobs which have disappeared around the world through the global economic recession and the global financial crisis.
"Production of the Hybrid Camry is expected to inject around $90 million into the Victorian and South Australian automotive parts industry, and will create new jobs at Toyota's suppliers."
Toyota won the first $35 million grant issued from the Federal Government's $1.3 billion Green Car Innovation Fund to help bring production of the Hybrid Camry to Australia. The Victorian Government also contributed $15 million towards the Hybrid Camry project.
New Zealand has been confirmed as an initial export market for the model (recieving just 300 cars in the first year of production), however there's no word on whether Altona-built Hybrid Camrys will be sent to the lucrative Middle-Eastern market.
With roughly 60 percent of domestic Camry production presently destined for the Arabian Gulf, the Australian-built hybrid model may also be sent overseas in high volumes. However, it will be competing with factories in Thailand and Japan, where the Hybrid Camry is also produced, for access to these markets.
Although the car itself is assembled locally, the Hybrid Camry's 140kW 2.4 litre petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain is fully imported from Japan, along with other hybrid-specific technology.
Official specifications have yet to be released, however the Hybrid Camry is expected to consume between 6.0 - 6.2 litres of petrol on the combined cycle and be faster and handle better than existing Camry models.
Toyota claims commuters could potentially save as much at least 1100 litres of fuel each year by driving a Hybrid Camry.
Final pricing and specification details will be announced closer to the car's launch, but sources say the price differential between the Hybrid Camry and a similarly-specced Camry Ateva will be under $4000, putting the Hybrid Camry's pricetag around the $35,000 mark.