Toyota Motor Corporation’s over half a century unbroken run of producing cars in Australia came to an end this month following the formal closure of its Altona factory, located near Melbourne. More than 3.4 million vehicles have rolled out from this manufacturing unit since 1963.
The last car to roll off the assembly line was a Camry sedan. Over 3,000 employees and invitees attended the sign-off ceremony. It may be recalled that the Camry’s imported in the Middle East also came from this production unit.
Toyota is not leaving the Australian market and its profile as a manufacturer-retailer now changes to that of importer and retail operations. Meanwhile, all corporate functions will move from Sydney to Melbourne, which is the closest city to Altona early next year.
Earlier, Toyota president Akio Toyoda paid a personal visit to Melbourne in late August to say goodbye to many of the Toyota workers personally who were facing redundancy due to the closure of this plant. The grandson of TMC founder Kiichiro Toyoda walked the floor of the giant facility to shake hands with assembly line workers and express his appreciation for their service in what was described by Toyota Australia chairman Max Yasuda as an emotional day.
The closure of this manufacturing facility has been described as unique in Toyota’s history as it is a first time event.