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AIMS: Toyota Oz chased Camry show-stopper

What might have been: An artist's impression of the new Toyota Camry, which Toyota Australia sought for AIMS.

New Toyota Camry sought for Melbourne show, but missed by that much...

27 Jun 2011

TOYOTA Australia put up its hand to stage the global launch of its new-generation Camry at the Australian International Motor Show (AIMS) starting in Melbourne this Friday.

The request was declined by Toyota Motor Corporation, which had already locked in the world debut of the new mid-sizer for another event elsewhere, most likely the United States.

The next Camry is expected to break cover about August ahead of sales in its biggest markets, the US and Japan. It will go into production at Toyota’s Australian plant in the second half of the year before a final-quarter local launch, probably November.

Toyota Australia already has five new models and concepts to show at AIMS, including the stunning FT-86 II concept sports coupe, the all-new Yaris, facelifted HiLux and two Prius concepts, the C hatchback and V wagon.

However, the local subsidiary of the world’s biggest motor company would have liked to have gone one better with the all-new Camry, which is still under wraps.

Toyota Australia public affairs manager Mike Breen confirmed to GoAuto that the Australian branch had asked for the Camry.

“We would have loved it,” he said. “But there was a global launch planned and we have to fit in with the global plans.”

The bid by Toyota was worth a try, as the new-look mid-year Australia motor show is one of the few international shows at this time of year, with the Frankfurt, Tokyo and Los Angeles shows starting from around September – after the Camry is due to be launched.

8 center imageLeft: Current Toyota Camry. Below: Altona manufacturing plant.

Last year, the 2010 AIMS in Sydney attracted the global debut of the new Ford Ranger and its sister car, the Mazda BT-50, mainly because those vehicles were developed in Australia.

This year, Toyota Australia will at least get to give the forthcoming facelifted HiLux its first public airing.

Mr Breen said the new Camry was running on target for its late 2011 debut, despite global disruption caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami since March.

He said that while the 2012 HiLux – which will also be previewed at the Melbourne show – had been delayed from its mid-year launch date until later in the year, the new Camry was set to roll.

“They (TMC) have been able to protect the Camry from a lot of the tsunami and earthquake impact so we are still on schedule, as we have been, so it is not delayed,” he said.

“It is just the way they programmed parts to come out of the various suppliers around the world, and they have been able to keep Camry on track.”

Preparation for the new Camry has started at Toyota Australia’s Altona factory, with old machinery being pulled out of the engine plant in readiness for a $331 million refurbishment for new equipment to build the new AR 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that will power both the Camry and Camry Hybrid.

However, as GoAuto has reported, the factory will not achieve full production of the engine until the second half of 2012, meaning most engines for the locally produced Camry will be imported for the first year.

The company used recent downtime caused by parts shortages in the wake of the Japanese quake to get started on staff training for the new model, including re-training on new methods of quality control.

The factory has now resumed pre-quake production levels at the rate of about 9000 units a month, but production will soon stop to upgrade elements of the line in readiness for the switchover to the new model in a few months.

Work at the factory, including measures to cut its carbon footprint, have been partly funded by a $63 million grant from the federal government’s now-defunct Green Car Innovation Fund.

Last year, Toyota sold just over 25,000 Camrys for a 40.2 per cent share of the medium-car market segment. This year, sales are down 19.7 per cent.

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