As many had feared, Toyota will officially stop building vehicles and engines in Australia by the end of 2017. The announcement came as no surprise, especially after Ford and GM canceled their Australian operations, and the automaker claims to have made every effort to salvage the Port Melbourne, Victoria-based manufacturing operations, which was established in 1959. Toyota currently builds the Camry, Camry Hybrid, and Aurion models in Australia.
“We believed that we should continue producing vehicles in Australia, and Toyota and its workforce here made every effort,” said Toyota president Akio Toyoda in a statement. “However, various negative factors such as an extremely competitive market and a strong Australian dollar, together with forecasts of a reduction in the total scale of vehicle production in Australia, have forced us to make this painful decision.”
Toyota follows in the footsteps of both Ford and General Motors, which in the last year have both announced decisions to end vehicle production in Australia. Ford will slash vehicle manufacturing by 2016, while General Motors will terminate production of its Holden division by 2017. With three major automakers pulling out of Australia due to a strong Australian dollar that allows for a staunchly competitive import market, more than 40,000 workers across the Australian automotive industry face uncertain employment futures. Employees for parts and supply companies face particular difficulties, since there will be no business to be done without any domestic manufacturing.
Major cuts are expected to come to Toyota’s Australian workforce of 3,900 people, which will shift its focus to sales and distribution. Toyota’s Australian technical center for design and evaluation currently employs 150 people, but that contingent will also likely be scaled back. Toyota said that it will work hard to assist and support employees affected by the decision, but we will have to wait and see exactly how the situation plays out leading up to the official production halt at the end of 2017.