Manufacturing News

Hybrid cars to be made locally

Toyota has announced plans to build hybrid cars at its Altona plant in Melbourne from 2010. Production is expected to reach 10,000 units within 3-4 years.

Prime minister Kevin Rudd said he was delighted.

“The Federal Government is talking to all the car and component makers about ways to build cleaner greener cars, to reduce carbon emissions and improve fuel efficiency, as part of building a sound future for the Australian vehicle industry.

“We are very pleased that Toyota has taken the lead. The hybrid Camry will be the first green vehicle of its kind to be manufactured in Australia,” he said.

“As part of its $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund, the Federal Government will provide $35 million in assistance to Toyota Australia to help secure a new era and a new direction for green automotive production in Australia.”

The Victorian Government will also make a financial contribution to the project.

The hybrid Camry will be the greenest car manufactured in Australia with lower emissions than any other Australian-produced model.

The Japanese auto giant plans to make the Toyota Camry Hybrid in Australia by using existing production lines for its standard Camry model.

The announcement, at Toyota’s HQ in Nagoya, comes after months of high level talks involving industry minister Kim Carr and senior Toyota executives.

The news comes days after Holden announced it will cut over 500 jobs by ceasing production of four-cylinder engines by the end of next year.

Holden has been criticised for slashing the jobs before the completion of the Bracks review into the car industry but the company insisted reduced export demand for its Family II engine had resulted in its four-cylinder Melbourne operation being reduced to less than 50% capacity.

While Holden said the 27-year-old engine had reached the end of “its life cycle”, Carr said the engine would not be able to meet emission standards in its key export markets.

“This highlights the pressure on the industry as a whole to adapt to climate change and the need for fuel efficiency,” he said.

Toyota is also expected to start production of the hybrid Camry at its Thailand plant, scheduled for later this year.

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