Pressure on Toyota Australia as Australian sales drop

Toyota has repeated its claim that it will reveal by mid-year if it will continue manufacturing in Australia, as new car sale figures show locally-made car demand was down last year.

The ABC and others report that figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show the brand leading in new cars sold, moving 214,630 vehicles, ahead of Holden and Hyundai.

Following Holden’s announcement in December that it would cease manufacturing in Australia in 2017, Toyota is set to be the last remaining company manufacturing cars in Australia, and has conceded that it was under “unprecedented pressure”. Ford will quit Australia in 2016.

Toyota Australia’s sales and marketing director Tony Cramb said that the future hinged on the car maker’s Japanese headquarters approving a bid to make the Camry in Australia for export.

“That is a process that we’re going through now. We’re working with our suppliers and our stakeholders to determine whether or not that’s possible,” he said.

“In order to achieve that we need to earn the next generation of Camry with export, and that decision will be made this year.”

According to the FCAI, the total of locally-made cars sold in Australia last year was 118,510 vehicles, down from 139,796 the year before.

Though Australian Camry sales were down in by 8.7 per cent 2013, Cramb said the result was a solid one.

“The best selling mid-size car in 2013, and for the past 20 years, is the Camry,” he told The Australian.

“This amazing sales performance is proof positive that we are producing a car that continues to meet the demands of local buyers.”

News Limited Network reports that the “middle of the year” timetable for a decision on Toyota in Australia wasn’t firm, and that the Japanese parent company was “in no hurry” to let workers know their fate.

According to this report, citing unnamed insiders, the relationship between Toyota Australia and its Japan office has suffered lately, with the Japanese disappointed workers didn’t agree to cost-savings measures in December as the company attempts to lower the production cost per vehicle by $3,800.