Wheels can reveal the car maker has scheduled a line-off ceremony for employees and VIPs that will start at 1pm. The car maker has declined to confirm it has already built the last Camry Hybrid, suggesting that it will be present as the last conventionally engined Camry powered by an Altona-cast 2.5-litre engine rolls off the production line, marking an end to half a century of assembly and manufacturing.
Sources have reported the car maker has assembled a collection of cars first built under licence at Port Melbourne in 1963 by Australian Motor Industries, which itself would eventually be bought out by Toyota after it decided that Australia would become the company's first manufacturing base outside of Japan. This includes a Toyota Tiara, the first Toyota-badged car assembled here.
Toyota either assembled or built a number of models in Australia, including the Tiara, Crown, Corolla, Avalon, Aurion, and the car that gave it the most success, particularly as an export earner, the Camry.
The Japanese car maker was the last of the Australian automotive manufacturing industry's cards to fall after Ford, and then Holden, bowed to international pressures that made their limited production unviable in an age of falling margins and increasing fuel efficiency standards.
Australia was to have built the next-generation Camry, the car that from late this year will arrive on our doorstep as a fully imported model, but in the wake of Ford and Holden's failure Japan decided the plan was unable to pay its way - as was a separate plan to build the Toyota RAV4 here to build much-needed production volume - only weeks before the 2014 announcement it too would quit Australia.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision to make. It is one of the saddest days in our history,” Toyota Australia chairman Max Yasuda said. That sentiment was reflected by Toyota's most senior executive, Aiko Toyoda who said: “It is most regretful for Toyota, and for me, personally, simply heartbreaking.”
The October edition of Wheels magazine, on sale now, includes extensive coverage of Toyota's history in Australia. WheelsMag.com.au will be following all the breaking news at the car maker's Altona-based production plant on Tuesday as it happens.
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