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Toyota: No Camry Hybrid... yet

Not locked in: Toyota says reports of a confirmed plan to build a hybrid Camry in Australia are premature.

Toyota Oz denies deal in place for Camry hybrid as Thailand touts its own plan

7 May 2008

TOYOTA has denied it has green-lighted a plan to manufacture a hybrid Camry in Australia, following a Fairfax newspaper report on the weekend that was headlined ‘Hybrid car to be built at Altona’.

Toyota Australia has long expressed its desire to produce a petrol-electric version of the locally-built Camry sedan at its Melbourne plant, but continues to state it has no immediate plans to do so.

But according to The Age, Altona is now set to become the new production home of such a vehicle, with Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) executives strongly supportive of the plan and likely to conclude negotiations in Australia’s favour by mid-year.

“It would be one of the options we would love to be able to canvas in our future plans, but we have no immediate plans for a hybrid model,” Toyota Australia spokesman Glenn Campbell told GoAuto this week.

The newspaper said the deal hinged on securing “the right” amount of government incentives and that the federal government was “working towards” an agreement for an announcement by the end of July – a timetable that would approximately coincide with the July 31 release of the Bracks review of the automotive sector.

High-level industry sources told GoAuto this week it was unlikely TMC management would decide to go ahead with the Camry hybrid production plan at Altona unless government funding details had already been finalised.

Toyota Thailand is also negotiating with TMC in Japan to produce a hybrid Camry at its Gateway plant in the Chachoengsao province.

The chief engineer of the Thai-made Corolla Altis, Yasuyuki Kawamoto, has told The Straits Times that the Camry hybrid would be assembled in Thailand “within the lifetime of the current Camry model”.

However, Toyota Motor Thailand spokesman Kij Mahajuntakarn told the paper the final decision was yet to be made.

Federal industry minister Kim Carr told GoAuto last week that he “pushed very strongly” for the Camry to be made at Altona when meeting Toyota senior management in Japan early this year.

Senator Carr, who would not comment further on the hybrid plan, said he made it clear to TMC top management that the Rudd government wanted to encourage local vehicle production.

“I went to Japan because there was a perception from Japanese automotive companies that Australia was not committed to manufacturing before the change of government,” he said.

“I wanted to make certain that they understood the change of government meant a change of policy and a change of attitude and I believe there have been productive, fruitful conversations highlighting those points.”

Key TMC boss to retire

IN A move that could destabilise Victorian and federal government lobbying efforts for Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) to build a hybrid car in Australia, the Japanese auto giant has announced that its executive vice-president in charge of global planning operations Tokuichi Uranishi (left) will retire next month.

8 center imageResponsible for all Toyota business outside Japan, Mr Uranishi has been a key figure in negotiations between TMC and Australian political leaders, including Victorian premier John Brumby and federal industry minister Kim Carr.

From the end of next month, Akio Toyoda will add overseas operations to his responsibilities, which already include domestic business.

Mr Toyoda is a randson of company founder Kiichiro Toyoda.

The changes will take effect after TMC’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

Mr Uranishi made headlines last October when he said the future of Toyota’s manufacturing operations in Australia was at stake due to the strength of the Australian dollar.

He called on the federal government to hold the current import tariff at 10 per cent, telling GoAuto and other Australian media at the Tokyo motor show that lowering the tariff rate to five per cent as scheduled in 2010 would threaten the viability of Toyota’s Camry factory in Melbourne.

He called on the federal government to hold the current import tariff at 10 per cent, telling GoAuto and other Australian media at the Tokyo motor show that lowering the tariff rate to five per cent as scheduled in 2010 would threaten the viability of Toyota’s Camry factory in Melbourne.

Read more:

Toyota cool on hybrid

Toyota sticks to hybrid script

Camry Hybrid put on hold


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