Toyota will stop building cars in Australia by the end of 2017.
Toyota Australia President and CEO Max Yasuda made the announcement to staff in Melbourne late on Monday.
“This is devastating news for all of our employees who have dedicated their lives to the company during the past 50 years,” Yasuda said in a statement.
“We did everything that we could to transform our business, but the reality is that there are too many factors beyond our control that make it unviable to build cars in Australia.”
About 2500 manufacturing workers are expected to lose their jobs because of Toyota’s decision, while corporate jobs may go too after a review of the company’s operations.
In a company statement, Toyota cited the high Australian dollar for making exports unviable, as well as the high costs of manufacturing within one of the most fragmented markets in the world.
Yasuda said manufacturing operations in Australia have continued at a loss despite efforts to turn things around.
Toyota’s announcement follows Ford and Holden’s decision – leaving Australia without a local car manufacturing industry by 2017.
National AMWU vehicle secretary Dave Smith said the decision would have devastating impact on everything from road transport to shipping and beyond.
“The magnitude of this decision in the community cannot be underestimated,” he said.
“We are looking at a potential recession all along the south-eastern seaboard.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott was asked about Toyota jobs about an hour before the announcement but had no details.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said seeing Toyota follow Holden and Ford out the door was a disgrace.
“The car industry has died under the Abbott government,” he told Network Ten.
The Altona plant closure would also have a major impact on car component companies, said Victorian AMWU secretary Steve Dargavel.
“Car parts supplying domestic automotive will no longer be happening in Australia after 2017,” he told reporters outside Toyota’s Altona plant.
“It is possible that there are some export opportunities if there is government support, if there is political will.
“But there are many, many more thousands of workers tonight that will be reflecting on their future as a consequence of this decision.”
Toyota engineers working in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs will also be worried about their future.
Max Gillard, president of Toyota Technical Center Asia Pacific, said some projects involving Toyota Camry, Camry Hybrid and Aurion models may need to be scaled back or scrapped.
“We will now work with (Toyota) to decide our own future direction,” he said.
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