Last week finished on a low note with last Friday's announcement by Holden that it intends to close part of its four-cylinder engine plant at Fishermans Bend with the loss of over 500 jobs, so it is pleasing to report that there is some considerably better news from the Toyota camp.
Mr Rudd is currently in Japan and hinted yesterday that his $500 million dollar ?green car fund? could be brought forward and was not limited to just Holden and Ford. Toyota has been quick to take advantage of ?the fund? with a plan to build hybrid Camrys locally and a deal is expected to be announced today. Victorian Premier John Brumby will be at Toyota's Altona plant and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd though in Japan, will jointly make the announcement with Brumby.
Toyota plans to have its first locally produced petrol-electric hybrid Camry for sale in Australia by early 2010 and will commit to an initial run of 10,000 units over twelve months.
The hybrid Camry has been on sale in Japan and the US for some time and costs around 14 percent more than a conventional Camry. A similar premium in Australia would see the hybrid Camry increase in price by around $4000 to close to $32,500. The trade-off is that a conventional Camry consumes 9.9 L/100km while the hybrid Camry would be expected to use only 5.7 L/100km.
Production of a hybrid Camry is not expected to increase jobs dramatically at Toyota?s Altona plant, instead it will go some way towards providing a more stable base for those jobs already in existence.
Prime Minister Rudd noted that access to an Australian made hybrid vehicle will be another way for motorists to deal with the ?horrible impact? of rising petrol prices.
Mr Rudd has also promised to change the government?s fleet of 4000 or so vehicles over to green cars while Premier Brumby will look to include more hybrid cars in Victoria?s public service fleet as well.
Now, we just need Holden and Ford to step up to the plate for their share of the governments green pie.