Toyota Australia has announced that it will slow production volumes at its Altona plant from March until May, citing softening demand in domestic and export markets. The plant produces four-cylinder Camry and six-cylinder Aurion models for both the Australian market and the major export market of the Middle East.
Toyota's 3500 employees will each shed eight days over the period, slowing plant output from current production schedules.
Commenting on the announcement, Toyota Australia Executive Director Corporate Services, Bernie O'Connor, said the eight days would "be achieved by bringing forward programmed days off and some annual leave".
"The immediate welfare of our employees remains our prime consideration.
"We have already implemented a number of measures, including slowing the production line, in an effort to address the change in operating conditions," Mr O'Connor said.
In 2008, Toyota Australia's Altona plant produced 140,000 vehicles of which over 100,000 were exported, mostly to the Middle East. The slowing of the lines will trim production by 4000 cars over the period.
With Middle East economies being whacked by collapsing oil revenues, and with softening demand at home, Toyota has responded to the inevitable. Whether there are further 'production adjustments' will depend upon how deep and long the global recession and the downturn in Australia.
The good news for Toyota here is that the planned facelift for both Aurion and Camry models, planned for later this year, will spice up local interest in the brand and give Toyota marketers something new to say. The hybrid Camry, due to be introduced in 2010, is also reason for optimism for 'the Big T's' local operation.
The current downturn has caught Toyota at the end of a model cycle - about the worst place to be when other factors are at work drying up showroom traffic.