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Toyota picks Melbourne for Australian HQ

Home: Toyota Australia’s Port Melbourne office will call the shots on the Japanese giant’s Australian operations after manufacturing closes in 2017.

Sydney loses out as Toyota consolidates Australian business in Victoria from 2018

Toyota logo3 Dec 2014

TOYOTA Australia will consolidate its new-look Australian business in Melbourne when it closes its Altona car production plant in 2017 with the loss of 2600 jobs.

The decision will have a major impact on Toyota’s Sydney office at Caringbah – near Botany Bay – where 350 sales and marketing employees will be offered transfers to Toyota’s existing Port Melbourne head office.

Just 1300 of the current 3900 factory and white-collar jobs will remain once Australia’s largest car company completes the transition by 2018.

Of the jobs to go, 2500 are blue- and white-collar positions related to manufacturing, with a further 100 to go from administration and engineering.

And in a surprise move, Toyota will retain most of its Altona manufacturing site in Melbourne’s west for what it calls a Centre of Excellence to house “a world-class training facility and other commercial initiatives that will enhance the company’s business and the community”.

The product planning and service functions will also be moved to Altona from Port Melbourne in the shake-up that will also involve re-organisation of the current four parts centres and state offices in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

The moves follow Toyota’s decision in February to follow Holden and Ford out of manufacturing in Australia where Japan’s biggest motor manufacturer has made cars for 51 years.

The decision to consolidate what is left of Toyota’s business in Melbourne is a rare bit of good news for Victoria, which is facing the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the motor industry with the closure of the three local car-makers by 2017.

 center imageLeft: Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner. Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner made the latest announcement to Toyota’ s Australian workforce today, saying the decisions had not been taken lightly.

“We understand that it is a difficult time for many of our employees and we are committed to supporting them during the transition period,” he said.

“These changes will provide us with the best opportunity to have a strong and sustainable base for the next fifty years and beyond.

“The decision to consolidate our corporate operations to Melbourne supports our long-term vision and will assist us in improving business efficiency, increase collaboration and reduce operating costs.

“The intention is that the relocation will be aligned to the end of manufacturing and we will encourage our Sydney-based employees to move to Melbourne.” Sydney has long run the sales and marketing operations of Toyota Australia in an arrangement stemming from the takeover of Thiess – the original independent importer of Toyota light commercial vehicles and all-wheel drives dating from 1958.

As well, Toyota’s product public relations operation and a major parts warehouse operate from the Sydney site.

But the move means Toyota will retain its corporate link to the inner Melbourne suburb where the first Australian-built Toyotas – called Tiara – rolled from the Australian Motor Industries production line in 1963.

Mr Buttner said his company’s goal was to make the changes as seamless as possible, with minimal disruption.

“There will be a thorough transition process for interstate relocation and we do not expect any disruptions to our regional offices or product functions that are relocating locally,” he said.

The Toyota Technical Centre in Notting Hill, in Melbourne’s east, is also destined to go in the clean out.

Toyota Australia media and external affairs manager Beck Angel told GoAuto that the company was not planning to initiate any of the major changes before manufacturing ended at Altona in 2017.

She said Melbourne had been selected to retain the national headquarters for a number of reasons, one of which had been access to property for facilities such as the Centre of Excellence.

Asked if the Victorian Government had sweetened the deal to retain its Melbourne presence, Ms Angel said no such deal had been made.

Toyota is preparing to launch its final Australian-made Camry model – a facelift due in showrooms next year – from the Australian plant that traditionally has produced about 100,000 vehicles a year, with about 70 per cent for export to the Middle East and other markets.

Financially, Toyota has already starting making allowances for the big change, allowing $384 million for employee redundancies on its books in the past financial year.

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