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Toyota commits to 2017 production closure

No change: While Ford and Holden scramble to establish their post-2017 range, Toyota says its business as usual for its line-up.

People the priority in preparation for 2017 production shut-down, says Toyota

Toyota logo13 May 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

TOYOTA'S main focus in the lead up to the closure of its Australian production facility is looking after its “people”, and the company has committed to manufacturing cars here until its originally confirmed time-line of late 2017.

Dwindling sales of both other Australian-made cars, in particular the Ford Falcon, has lead to speculation that the three local car-makers – Ford, Holden and Toyota – may quit production ahead of the original date, but Toyota says that is not the case.

With strong ongoing sales of Camry, the Japanese car-maker is maintaining its number-one position in the mid-size sedan market and even intends to build sales, as others struggle against the tide with slipping numbers.

Speaking at the launch of the final Australian-built Camry this week, Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner told GoAuto the company was not concerned with its post-2017 local range, and would instead concentrate on minimising the impact on personnel.

“Honestly, the first thing we think about is our people and that's the approach we've taken,” he said. “In terms of the product, I think we are fortunate to have the parent that we have and we can never complain about the products we have access to.

“For us we've never had a concern about the product we get.

“We want to make sure we have value-for-money product in the marketplace that enables us, over the next two-and-a-half years, to maintain the volumes we need to ensure ongoing employment at Altona, to ensure ongoing parts for our suppliers to make, and to give our employees the opportunity to transition.”

While the other two local car-makers ponder model substitution from other global lines, Toyota says it is “business as usual” and will not be looking to shake-up the portfolio when production ceases here.

Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb told GoAuto he was surprised at how Ford and Holden were seeing the end of local production as an opportunity to revise their Australian product ranges.

“I find it a really strange line to go down because we've always had access to that global range of vehicles and so have they, and we've never felt shackled by what we have here,” he said.

“We are looking to replace the Camry with Camry so it's no big issue with us. I don't believe it's had any influence or impact on our product line-up at all.”

Mr Cramb explained that the differences between Ford, Holden and Toyota's structures may account for the varied approach.

“I find that whole line of reasoning hard to understand, but their history is very different,” he said. “At one time I would guess more than half of their sales were either Commodore or Falcon.

“Locally made total will be in the order of 30,000 sales for us and we'll do in excess of 200,000 and we will replace the sales which are lost in local manufacture with the same vehicle, there's no issue for us. It's business as usual.”

Ford has confirmed it will discontinue the Falcon nameplate after production cases and, while Holden will retain the Commodore name, it will be worn by a very different vehicle sourced from elsewhere in the General Motors world.

Mr Cramb reiterated the sentiments of Mr Buttner, explaining the company felt its responsibility to look after the 2500 people affected by the manufacturing shut-down was the main priority.

“We've got a people issue to deal with and that's the most important thing for us,” he said. “Firstly our employees and secondly our suppliers are handled appropriately. And then obviously we need to take care of our dealers, and that their businesses make it through unscathed.”

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