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Toyota to confirm local exit plans tomorrow

In doubt: Toyota's Port Melbourne headquarters face an uncertain future, with the possibility of some roles being transferred to the company's Sydney office or made redundant.

Future of Toyota Australia to be detailed to employees tomorrow

2 Dec 2014

TOYOTA Australia will tomorrow detail its plans for staff redundancies and the future structure of its local operations as it starts the long process of closing its Australian manufacturing business by the end of 2017.

When it announced in February this year that it would shut its local plant that produces the Camry and Aurion sedans and shift to full-line importation, Toyota committed to informing staff and the public of its plans by the end of this year.

The Japanese car-maker will confirm its plans with the media and the public late tomorrow afternoon, after senior management has first discussed the exit strategy with its employees.

While Toyota Australia was unable to provide any details ahead of tomorrow's announcement, it is believed that some redundancies will be detailed, further reducing the workforce at Altona in Melbourne's west from the 2500 engine plant and white-collar employees it currently employs.

Toyota Motor Corporation president and CEO Akio Toyoda recently visited Australia as a part of a project involving executives and engineers driving across the country in a number of different Toyota vehicles to get a better understanding of their cars and assisting future model development.

While in Australia, it is believed that Mr Toyoda also spent time with senior Toyota Australia brass as part of an internal review to finalise details of the exit plan, including staff cuts, and potentially the consolidation of some business units.

Speculation also suggests Toyota's corporate headquarters in Bertie Street, Port Melbourne could be closed prior to the end of manufacturing, with some white-collar roles made redundant and other roles shifted to the Sydney sales and marketing office in Caringbah.

The car-maker is likely to confirm the fate of the Toyota Technical Centre Australia (TTC-AU), which is one of just five tech centres worldwide, alongside Japan, Thailand, Belgium and the United States.

Toyota confirmed in May this year that it would significantly reduce the size of its 160-strong workforce, commencing at the start of 2015. The centre has a number of departments working on various global and local projects, including electronics, engineering for body and chassis, vehicle evaluation, customer quality and technical administration.

The future of Toyota's local design studio could also be revealed in tomorrow's statement.

Toyota has so far remained tight-lipped about its future beyond 2017, with no indication of how it plans to market itself, whether it will alter its line-up with new models, or if it will change its name following the closure of the Altona plant to reflect its status as a sales company.

Both Ford and Holden have outlined plans for an aggressive future product onslaught as they transition from local manufacturer to full-line importer, with Holden confirming it will cherry pick from General Motors' global portfolio of models to offer customers a wider range of cars that is currently available.

Holden estimates that one third of its product will be sourced from Europe as rebadged Opels, and the rest will be made up of product from the United States, South Korea and Thailand.

Ford is also growing its line-up too, with the locally developed Ranger ute-based Everest SUV and Mustang hero car confirmed for launch in 2015.

Toyota was the final local car-maker to confirm its exit from Australian manufacturing, after Ford confirmed in May last year that it would close its Broadmeadows and Geelong facilities in October 2016, while Holden announced in December last year that it would wind-up its Victorian and South Australian plants in 2017.

Despite a minor drop in overall market share of 0.6 per cent in Australia to 18.2 per cent for the end of October this year, Toyota is still the dominant player in the local new-car market.

Out of the six locally built vehicles produced by Toyota, Ford and Holden, the Camry is the second-best-selling model on 17,689 units so far this year, behind the Holden Commodore on 25,994.

Toyota started building cars in Australia in 1963 at its Port Melbourne facility.

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