THE last Toyota Camry to be made in Australia has started rolling off the carmaker’s Altona production line, marking the offical start of the final chapter for the Japanese brand’s local manufacturing.
Known as the “Big Little Change Camry”, the mid-size four-cylinder conventionally engined and hybrid sedan that will need to compete with an all-new Ford Mondeo, the Mazda 6 sedan and wagon, Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Passat mimics the Camry's international styling externally, but carries over most of its interior from the previous model.
Toyota said it had invested $108 million in developing the 2015 Camry, which included $23.6 million from the Federal Government and an undisclosed contribution from the Victorian government.
"This is truly the boldest Camry yet, with exciting, dynamic styling that is sure to turn heads," Toyota Australia president David Buttner (above) said.
"We have been careful not to compromise style over substance and have maintained all the traditional strengths that current buyers love."
However, while the last-ever Australian-built Camry will be built to Toyota’s exacting worldwide quality, the Australian version of the sedan will miss out on many of the advanced safety options available on overseas versions of the car – an indication that although this represents a major change externally, beneath the skin costs had to be cut.
Toyota Australia has struggled with rising costs of production of the Camry and its V6-engined sibling, the Aurion, while a strong Australian dollar ate into its Middle Eastern export program, where about seven out of every 10 Camrys running down Toyota’s Altona production line west of Melbourne were destined.
The plant is scheduled to make about 90,000 cars this year, slightly down on the numbers pegged in previous years.
Restructuring the manufacturing operations – Toyota, like Holden, expects to exit Australian carmaking in late 2017, a year after Ford shutters its engine and assembly lines – helped push the company to a crushing $437 million loss for the 2013-14 financial year.
It is expected to report another loss when it closes the books on the 2014-15 financial year in about June.
Toyota said pricing and specification for the final Camry would be revealed next month, when the Big Little Change model officially goes on sale.
Toyota has not offcially revealed which overseas factory will pick up the Australian production capacity once the last Camry and Aurion roll off the Altona assembly line.