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Toyota prepared for election outcome

Here to stay: Toyota Australia executive vice-president and chief operating officer David Buttner said Toyota has no intention to discontinue manufacuring in Australia.

Continuing government investment expected regardless of which party wins election

Toyota logo25 Feb 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

TOYOTA is confident of ongoing government co-investment, regardless of the Federal election outcome in September, to keep the Australian vehicle manufacturing industry viable moving into the next decade.

Toyota Australia executive vice-president and chief operating officer David Buttner said both major Australian political parties are in agreement with Toyota’s view on continuing government support.

However, he warned that fierce internal competition from other Toyota manufacturing sites around the world would always pose a threat to the production of the Camry, Aurion and the yet-to-be-announced third vehicle line at Altona (rumoured to be the next-generation Kluger).

Speaking to GoAuto last week, the Toyota veteran said his company had no desire or intention to discontinue manufacturing in the foreseeable future.

“For a company like Toyota that continues with vehicle manufacturing in Australia, it is very important that we see a policy regime in the short, medium and longer term, which is conducive to attracting investment,” said Mr Buttner.

“Being part of the Asia/Pacific region, there is a whole host of Toyota plants – and not just in Asia, but all around the world – that are looking for investment or to expand their capacity or expand with additional models.

“Governments around the world have policy regimes that support local manufacturing (and) the current government has been very supportive of the automotive industry.”

Unlike Holden, whose chairman and managing director Mike Devereux called for more clarity regarding what the Coalition would do in office in terms of continuing co-investment, Mr Buttner says he is satisfied that the status quo will be maintained.

“If there is a change of government I don’t see any reason why that support should change. The industry is such an important part of Australia.

“We always talk to the incumbent government, we always talk to the opposition, and we will continue to engage with both to say what we believe is a good amount of investment in Australia by the government.

“We still want to build cars in the marketplace in which we sell them, and we have a very strong commitment to manufacturing.

“We go to Canberra regularly, we engage with the government and the opposition.

“We were up there late last year and the government is fully aware – and so is the opposition – what we believe we need to see in the Australian marketplace to continue to attract investment.”

Mr Buttner said Holden’s announcement earlier this month that it will build a new-generation Commodore in South Australia was a great one for Toyota as well as Australia.

“The more cars we can produce locally in Australia – be it ourselves, General Motors or Ford – we need a good strong volume base in Australia, because we need our local supplier base to continue, and they need the volume to sustain their growth in the future.

“So we wholeheartedly support any moves that either Ford or GM make to grow their volumes in Australia. Ongoing volume ensures critical mass in Australia.”

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