Earlier today, Toyota rolled their last Australian-made car off the production line at their plant in Altona, Victoria, bringing an end to more than five decades of local manufacturing.
A Camry hybrid was the last Australian-made Toyota, which came off the line adorned with Australian imagery, including a large Aussie flag on the roof and an aerial photo of the Altona manufacturing plant on the bonnet. The last Camry was driven off the line by longtime Toyota rallying stalwart Neal Bates. Whether that vehicle will be retained by Toyota, sold or auctioned off for charity has not been revealed.
Respect for Staff
The last day of Toyota’s Australian manufacturing operations at Altona was a largely private affair for staff and invited guests. Around 3,000 were in attendance for the final day, where Toyota Australia President Dave Buttner paid tribute to present and past employees.
"It is you, our dedicated employees, who have built Toyota into Australia's leading car company," Buttner said.
"It is your efforts that have helped Toyota become a byword for quality, for reliability and for trust wherever you go in Australia.”
After personally visiting the Altona plant in August, Global President of Toyota Motor Corporation, Akio Toyoda, also acknowledged Toyota’s Australian staff on the final day, via video link.
"I would like to express my sincere appreciation again to you, our dedicated employees, our suppliers, our customers, the local community and government who have all supported Toyota's manufacturing development in Australia.
"From the bottom of my heart, I wish you and your families happiness in the future. Thank you very much."
Altona Retained, Operations Rationalised
The end of Toyota’s Australian vehicle manufacturing operations means around 2,600 job losses, which will be compounded by the relocation of all Toyota’s Sydney corporate operations to Melbourne by February next year.
To help transition manufacturing staff to new employment, Toyota set up the DRIVE program in 2014, and say they will continue to assist past employees until the middle of 2018.
With the end of manufacturing, Toyota’s total Australian staff will drop to around 1,300, but like Holden and Ford, key engineering and design personnel will remain, including a 150-stong Australian team that Buttner says are in demand around the globe.
The Altona factory site will be retained, but repurposed to suit new and relocated functions, including a Centre of Excellence, which Buttner says will be a “world class training facility” when it’s completed.
Toyota Australia’s head office will remain in Port Melbourne.
On the final day, Toyota’s manufacturing presence in Australia was presented in the form of a parade of past Australian-made and assembled Toyotas.
That lineage stretched back to the Toyota Tiara, which, when it was assembled here from 1963 to 1965, was the first Toyota to be produced outside Japan.
The Tiara was followed by the likes of the Corona and several generations of Crown and Corolla.
From 1979, Toyota manufactured engines here, too, and also built Corollas and Camrys for Holden in the late 1980s, which were rebadged as the Nova and the Apollo, respectively.
More recent Australian-made products include the Camry, Avalon and Aurion, of which
the Camry was has been the most successful, with more than 2.16 million built, including 50,296 hybrid variants like the last one off the line.
Toyota’s total vehicle production from 1963 to 2017 is listed at 3,451,115. Of that total, 1.34 million were exported; far in excess of any other Australian manufacturer.