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Toyota here ‘indefinitely’: Conomos

Left: Australian automotive industry ambassador and former executive chairman of Toyota Australia, John Conomos.

Former Toyota local chief says car-maker would ‘never voluntarily leave’ Australia

4 Jun 2013

TOYOTA will build cars in Australia for many years to come, the former head of the Japanese company’s local operations saysAustralian automotive industry ambassador and former executive chairman of Toyota Australia, John Conomos, said last week was confident Toyota would not follow Ford’s lead of shuttering its local car-making business, but would keep making cars in Australia.

“I think Toyota will be in Australia indefinitely,” he told GoAuto.

“After many, many years of seeing Toyota face adversity in almost every market, they never voluntarily leave any country.

“They would only leave if requested by the local (federal) government, and that never happens.

“It would require extenuating circumstances, which I don’t foresee happening in the next model change or beyond that. I think Toyota will remain a very significant player.

“They are recruiting right now, as well.”

Mr Conomos said Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) always planned for the long term, which was why it did not close down its manufacturing operations when the Australian dollar rose well above parity with the US dollar.

“If you are long-term thinker, then in fact you don’t base your company’s operations on exchange rates,” he said.

“You base it on the ability to produce vehicles that meet Toyota’s standards and their expectations as a global supplier with consistency and constant cost reduction under a substantially stable policy.”

He said TMC’s confidence in its Australian operations was amply demonstrated by the opening of a new engine plant at its Altona factory in Melbourne late last year.

“Just cast your mind back to last year,” he said. “They opened an engine factory (and) that gives rise to my confidence that they weren’t all about saying things are too hard,” he said.

Mr Conomos officially retired from Toyota Australia in June 2008 after almost three decades as one of the Australian motor industry’s most charismatic leaders.

At the time of his ‘retirement’, he was serving as chairman emeritus and principal policy advisor, having stood down as the company’s executive chairman two years earlier.

He is on the advisory board of several companies and has worked as an automotive envoy for the past four years.

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