The Altona production line is coming to an end. Picture: Supplied.
The Altona production line is coming to an end. Picture: Supplied.

End of the line: Toyota to shut factory as final Camry rolls off the line

TOYOTA will close its Camry factory in Altona today (Tuesday), ending 54 years of manufacturing in Australia and axing 2500 jobs.

According to factory insiders, about 40 per cent of the blue collar workforce has found a new job and about 15 per cent are set to retire.

But the future for the remaining 45 per cent of workers remains unclear despite Toyota starting a job search program three years ago and paying for new qualifications outside the industry.

Toyota says it has done "everything possible" to help its workers find new jobs.

The last Toyota Camry is due to go down the production line about midday today.

As with the Ford shutdown, the Toyota factory will be closed to media. Instead, the car company says, it wants to make the send-off a private affair.

Long serving workers with more than 25 years experience will take home in excess of $200,000 as part of their redundancy payment, as well as getting access to discounts on new Toyotas for life.

Workers who've been with Toyota for less than 10 years get a discount on new Toyotas for five years.

Toyota has built more than 3.4 million cars across various factories since 1963, more than 2 million of which were made in the Altona factory since it opened in 1995.

By comparison, Ford built 5.9 million vehicles over 91 years and Holden will have built more than 7 million cars over 69 years when it closes its factory gates at Elizabeth.

The Altona facility is the first mass production Toyota factory in the world the Japanese car maker has shut down.

Only 54 Commemorative Toyota Camrys have been produced to celebration Australian manufacturing.
Only 54 Commemorative Toyota Camrys have been produced to celebration Australian manufacturing.

Previously it sold a factory in the US jointly owned with General Motors, and a small assembly line in New Zealand was shuttered in the 1990s.

Altona's factory closure will bring to an end $1 billion in annual export orders for Australian made Toyota cars and parts.

While the local Camry has reached the end of the line, the difference will barely be noticed in showrooms.

Next month, a new Toyota Camry goes on sale, fresh off a boat from Japan.

Toyota had the business model the Federal Government asked of the industry - export 70 per cent of production to make up for the shortfall in local demand.

As import tariffs got lower - or evaporated altogether from some countries - Australia became the most fragmented and competitive new-car market in the world.

However, despite having enough export orders to keep the Altona factory running, Toyota was forced to close once Ford and Holden announced their shutdowns because the local parts supply base could not survive without orders from all three brands.

Body Shop welding of cars, Toyota Australia's Altona manufacturing plant
Toyota's Altona manufacturing plant will close after noon today.

Toyota Australia manufacturing history

1963 to 1965: Toyota starts assembling the small Tiara sedan in a Port Melbourne factory.

1965 to 1987: Toyota Corona

1967 to 1980: Toyota Crown

1968 to 1999: Toyota Corolla

1987 to today: Toyota Camry

1989 to 1996: Toyota builds the Holden Apollo (based on a Camry) and Holden Nova (based on a Corolla) under a federal government plan that forced rival car makers to share models and cut costs.

1989 to 1994: Toyota Camry production continues at Port Melbourne but Corolla assembly moves to a Holden factory in Dandenong while Toyota builds a new facility at Altona.

1995: Toyota car assembly moves to the new factory in Altona

2 000 to 2005: Toyota Avalon

2006 to today: Toyota Aurion V6

2009 to today: Toyota Camry Hybrid

17 August 2017: last Aurion V6 is built.

3 October 2017: last Toyota Camry gets built.