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Toyota scales back Australian technical centre

Cuts: Toyota will scale back its Australian engineering facilities from next year, a result of its decision to cease local production in 2017.

“Significant” reduction for Toyota's 160-strong Australian engineering hub from 2015

Toyota logo8 May 2014

By MIKE COSTELLO

TOYOTA Technical Centre Australia (TTC-AU) has announced it will significantly reduce the size of its operations over the coming years and take on only a small number of functions once local manufacturing ceases at the end of 2017.

The decision is yet another blow to the Australian motor industry, and comes three months after Toyota announced it would close its Melbourne manufacturing plant in 2017 – the same year as Holden and one year after Ford does the same.

TTC-AU is one of just five Toyota technical centres worldwide, with the others based in Japan, Thailand, Belgium and the United States.

In a statement released today, the TTC-AU said its management and senior executives in Japan had worked “tirelessly” to investigate options to secure the company's future from 2017, but “sadly determined” it was not viable in its current format without local production.

Staggered redundancies of its 160-strong local workforce based in the Melbourne suburb of Notting Hill (near Monash University) will commence from as early as next year as each major project currently on the go for either Australia or global markets winds up.

The final size, structure, location and remaining functions of TTC-AU beyond 2017 will be determined closer to the date, according to the organisation.

TTC-AU president Max Gillard said he would now work with TTC-AU’s employees to “support them during this difficult period”.

“Our immediate priority is to meet with each of our groups to explain the ramifications this decision will have on them and detail the support services that are available,” he said.

Established in 2003, the TTC-AU has worked on numerous major projects for local, Asian and global markets for parent company Toyota in recent times, including wiring and other electrical components for the Camry and software for petrol-electric hybrid systems.

As previously reported, TTC-AU is understood to have been involved to some degree with developing the global HiLux ute and its Fortuner SUV derivative.

Serving as the Australian arm of Toyota's Asia Pacific Technical Design Centre, the TTC-AU has six departments encompassing engineering for body and chassis, customer quality, electronics, vehicle evaluation and technical administration.

Today’s TTC-AU confirmation follows Holden’s announcement last week that it would not, as previously intended, close its Lang Lang proving ground, sparing about 80 jobs, although as GoAuto has reported, there are believed to be around 700 engineers and related staff still facing redundancy at the car-maker.

Large numbers of automotive engineers are currently being lured overseas, prompting industry representatives to warn of looming professional skills shortages – not to mention job losses for those who remain in Australia – as the car-makers begin to wind down their manufacturing operations.

Ford Australia will retain its full research, design and testing facilties in Victoria after its factory closes, employing in excess of 1000 staff to work on products in its capacity as the hub for Asia Pacific development.

It is not yet clear what specifically will happen to Toyota Australia's in-house design facility based in Port Melbourne.

However, much of its work comes from the Asia Pacific region outside of Australia and New Zealand, and Toyota said in February it would remain operational beyond the plant closure in 2017.

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