Toyota, Australia's largest car manufacturer, is building a new engine plant to produce next-gen AR-series engines for its Camry and Hybrid Camry sedans.
The investment of around AU$300 million will see more than 100,000 engines produced annually at Altona, including the engine for the Hybrid (its powerplant currently fully-imported).
Toyota claims the new engines "will develop more power and torque while using less fuel and producing fewer emissions". Manufacturing is expected to begin in the latter half of 2012.
Toyota's Australian engine manufacturing operation, which has been cranking out Toyota blocks since 1978, was Toyota's first engine manufacturing plant built outside Japan. Today, the Altona engine plant produces the current AZ four-cylinder engine for the Camry, with a workforce of 320.
In 2010, Toyota Australia exported 63,345 vehicles to more than 20 countries, most going to the Middle East.
Toyota has acknowledged support from the Federal Government's Green Car Innovation Fund - now axed - and also the support of the Victorian Government in the project.
While the high Australian dollar will clearly be impacting on the profitability of Toyota Australia's export program, this announcement will be welcomed by the Government as a vote of confidence in Australia's export manufacturing sector. It's also a coup for the local operation which competes within Toyota's global business for projects of this type.
"Securing the investment to produce the next generation engine is a huge vote of confidence for our local manufacturing plant and our employees.
"Toyota operations around the world are constantly vying for new investment to ensure local manufacturing operations can participate in the global car-making industry," Toyota Australia President and CEO, Mr Max Yasuda, said
More details are to be announced at a Toyota press conference next week. TMR will be attending.