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Toyota exit: More than 3.4 million cars made here

Australian royalty: The Tiara was the first model to roll off Toyota's Australian production line in 1963.

After 54 years, Toyota closes its factory doors with 3.4 million cars produced

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Toyota logo4 Oct 2017

TOYOTA’S 54-year run of producing cars in Australia has come to an end following yesterday’s closure of its Altona factory in Melbourne’s west, with more than 3.4 million vehicles rolling out of local manufacturing facilities since 1963.

The Japanese car-maker set up operations in Australia in 1958 when Thiess Toyota was importing LandCruisers for the Snowy Mountains Hydro scheme, and by 1963 Toyota vehicle assembly kicked off – with the Tiara – at the independent Australian Motor Industries’ (AMI) plant in Port Melbourne.

In 1972, Toyota Motor Company Australia purchased British Leyland’s stake in AMI and added an engine and gearbox plant, while the Altona production plant was established in 1978 to build engines.

Following criticism of the handling of some Toyota models, a handling package developed specifically for the Australian market was introduced in 1981.

The Port Melbourne plant was closed in the early 1994, with all Australian Toyota production shifting to a new facility at Altona, starting with the Corolla before Camry production was added. The Corolla was briefly built at Holden’s Dandenong plant while Toyota built the Altona factory.

Precisely 3,451,115 Toyota vehicles were built in Australia over the 54-year period, with 2007 marking the highest single production year (148,931 units) and October that year the highest production month (15,355 units).

No fewer than 1,324,991 Australian-built Toyotas were shipped to various international markets between 1996 (when an export program was established) and 2017, with the Middle East the biggest market, taking 1,245,914 vehicles.

The highest number of exports was achieved in 2008 when the company shipped 101,668 examples of the Camry and Aurion offshore.

Following the Tiara’s production run of 1684 units from 1963-65, a total of 336,197 Coronas were built from 1965-87, while 46,690 examples of the Crown rolled off the lines between 1966 and 1980.

The Corolla was produced between 1967 and 1999, when it made way for the locally developed Avalon, and clocked up 601,104 units.

Under a federal Labor government initiative dubbed the Motor Industry Development plan, or informally the Button plan, to rationalise the local car manufacturing industry and transition to lower levels of tariff protection, Toyota teamed up with Holden and built a rebadged version of the Corolla called the Nova and a rebadged Camry known as Apollo.

Between 1989 and 1996 Toyota built 40,287 Apollos and 28,128 Novas. Holden returned the favour by building a rebadged version of the Commodore called the Lexcen.

The poorly received Avalon sedan clocked up 44,741 production units from 2000-05, while its replacement – the V6-powered Aurion – hit 184,180 units between 2006 and August this year.

Clearly, the biggest success for Toyota in Australia has been the Camry, which was first built here in 1987 and has racked up a production tally of 2,168,104 units.

Toyota is the only car-maker in Australia to have built a hybrid powertrain.

The final models produced in Australia were the Aurion V6 sedan which ended production in late August, and the seventh-generation Camry which will be replaced in the coming months by an all-new version sourced from Japan.

Last month Toyota announced a Commemorative Edition of the Camry, limited to just 54 units representing the number of years it has built cars in Australia.

One of those models will be kept by Toyota Australia for a heritage centre at its Altona site, one will go to the Australian National Museum in Canberra, while the final 52 will be distributed to dealers for sale.

The Camry has been the best-selling mid-size car in Australia for 23 consecutive years, clocking up 26,485 units last year and capturing more sales than all other offerings in the sub-$60,000 combined.

Toyota has been the top-selling automotive brand in Australia since 2003, when it dethroned Holden, and has held the number-one spot ever since.

The closure and the consolidation of sales and marketing functions from Sydney to Melbourne means that a total of 2600 employees are leaving the company, reducing its local workforce from 3900 in 2014 when Toyota announced its decision to close the factory, to 1300 from the start of next year.

Toyota Australia production
ModelNumberYears
Tiara16841963-1965
Corona336,1971965-1987
Crown46,6901966-1980
Corolla601,1041967-1999
Camry2,168,1041987-2017
Apollo40,2871989-1996
Nova28,1281989-1996
Avalon44,7412000-2005
Aurion184,1802006-2017
Total3,451,1151963-2017

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