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Toyota Australia turns a $149m profit

Oh what a feeling: Toyota Australia has returned to profit after a string of losses.

Jump in Camry, Aurion exports help Toyota make a decent living in Australia

11 Jun 2013

TOYOTA has become the only Australian car-maker to turn a profit last financial year, earning a $149.1 million dividend.

However, the result for the financial year ending on March 31 was mainly on the strength of its export program, with seven out of every 10 cars built on its Altona production line in Melbourne’s west destined for overseas markets.

The positive result announced today also ends a three-year run of after-tax losses for the car-maker, which had tallied up to more than $153 million.

Toyota Australia manufactured 99,441 cars last year, up seven per cent on the previous year’s tally.

Of those, 69,676 vehicles were exported to the Middle East, New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands, Toyota said.

Revenue for the year ended on March 31 totalled $8.9 billion, up almost a quarter on the result for the 2011-12 financial year.

Pre-tax profit stood at $220.9 million despite the company last year ramping up production at its $330 million plant to build up to 108,000 2.5-litre four-cylinder engines a year for the Camry mid-size sedan and petrol-electric Camry Hybrid.

About 16,000 engines are expected to be exported this year to Malaysia and Thailand.

Toyota Australia received $72 million in federal government assistance for its 4200 workers last year, with some of the money fed into the engine plant. This compares with about $73 million handed from the public purse to Holden last financial year, and $112 million given to Ford.

Toyota said domestic sales of both Toyota and its luxury arm Lexus rose by more than 20 per cent to 225,599 units mainly as overseas production returned to the levels posted before the 2011 Japanese earthquake and Thai floods disrupted factories.

Toyota Australia said another factor contributing to the profit was its company-wide effort to shore up its business. It is 15 months into a five-year plan developed to address challenges including the high Australian dollar, intense market competition and the high cost of materials.

Toyota sold in 27,230 Camrys in the 2012 calendar year, up 42.1 per cent on 2011, and 9074 examples of the related V6-engined Aurion large car, up 1.8 per cent.

However, the latest VFACTS figures released last week show that to the end of May this year, Camry sales are down 13.4 per cent YTD, while Aurion has fallen sharply by 31.9 per cent, which is beyond the overall large-car segment’s decline of 29.2 per cent.

Nonetheless, Toyota Australia chief executive Max Yasuda said today that both Camry and Aurion continued to sell well in Australia.

“This demonstrates we are building high quality and durable vehicles that Australian motorists want to buy and enjoy, with the Camry being the best-selling vehicle in its segment for 19 years in a row,” Mr Yasuda said.

Mr Yasuda said the financial results showed the company’s transformation progress was on track, but said more needed to be done to achieve its targets.

“Our business is being radically changed to counter both internal and external pressures impacting us,” he said.

“We are doing everything we can to strengthen Toyota Australia and ensure our long-term future in this country as an importer and manufacturer”.

Toyota’s result is a stark contrast to that of fellow car-makers Ford Australia and Holden, which both posted losses last financial year.

Ford fell into a $141 million black hole in 2011-12 after losing a massive $290 million the previous year – a record run of red ink for the car-maker’s Australian arm. It has since announced that it will end local manufacturing in 2016.

Holden, meanwhile, announced it had slumped to a $152.8 million loss last financial year after several years of mediocre profits. It has blamed a sharp decline in exports, largely in response to the high value of the Australian dollar, as one of the main reasons it struggled last year.

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