* Toyota says exit will affect about 2,500 jobs
* Follows similar plans announced last year by GM, Ford
* High costs, strong Aussie dollar hurt competitiveness
By Maggie Lu Yueyang
SYDNEY, Feb 10 Toyota Motor Corp said
on Monday it would stop making cars and engines in Australia by
the end of 2017, marking the end of an era for a once-vibrant
auto production base and the loss of thousands of direct and
Toyota's decision follows the planned exits of General
Motors and Ford Motor announced last year and would
leave no global automaker remaining in Australia as high costs
and a strong currency make it an unattractive production base.
"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," Toyota Australia President Max Yasuda said in a
About 2,500 jobs will be affected when the plant stops
building cars in 2017, the company said.
Toyota's exit from Australia after more than half a century
there is a setback to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's conservative
government, which is seeking to manage a slowdown in the $1.5
trillion economy as a decade-long mining investment boom slows.
"This is obviously devastating news for everyone involved
with Toyota. It's devastating for me and for the government,"
Abbott said in Canberra.
Union leaders were more vocal in their criticism of the
government's handling of the auto industry's woes.
"The loss of the automotive manufacturing industry in
Australia will have far reaching consequences around the country
and throughout the economy," said Australia Council of Trade
Unions (ACTU) Secretary David Oliver.
"They've (the government) done absolutely nothing to keep
Toyota in this country," he added, warning that A$21 billion
($18.80 billion) would be wiped from the economy and that some
regions would go into recession.
The ACTU groups the main Australian trade unions under an
BLOW TO MANUFACTURING
A pullout by Toyota had been widely feared because of the
blow to the parts supply base from the flight of GM and Ford.
"It's a huge moment for industry in Australia," Industry
Minister Ian Macfarlane told reporters in Canberra after
"Toyota have made no requests to us other than express their
frustration with the difficulty they were having with the
industrial relations process," he said, when asked whether
Toyota had sought financial assistance or other forms of aid.
Australia's car industry includes about 150 companies
working in sectors from components to tooling, design and
engineering, with more than 45,000 people employed directly in
the car and parts-making sectors, according to government data.
While Australians bought a record 1.14 vehicles last year,
according to the Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive
Industries, the proportion made domestically was a record low at
barely 10 percent. Toyota was the top-selling brand, holding
nearly one-fifth of the market.
Vehicle production in Australia has nearly halved in the
past decade to just above 200,000 in 2012 from more than 400,000
in 2004. Sales of locally made vehicles have suffered in recent
years as a stronger Australian dollar makes imported cars more
In contrast, global automakers have been building new
factories and ramping up capacity in countries like Indonesia,
where a burgeoning middle class and lower costs make it an
increasingly attractive production base.