Toyota is to end car manufacturing in Australia by the end of 2017.
Toyota Australia president and chief executive Max Yasuda told staff in Melbourne late on Monday.
“This is devastating news for all of our employees who have dedicated their lives to the company during the past 50 years,” Mr Yasuda said in a statement.
“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.”
Earlier today, Toyota Australia tried to hose down renewed speculation over its future as a manufacturer in Australia ahead of a scheduled address to its workforce by its president Max Yasuda at about 5pm.
A Toyota spokeswoman said that Mr Yasuda would give his annual address at the company’s assembly plant at Altona in Melbourne’s west, and this would be broadcast to all its 4200 workers.
”We’re not making any redundancies and no decision has been made on the future of our manufacturing operations,” spokeswoman Beck Angel said.
However, security guards were later deployed this afternoon at its assembly plant and the company refused to answer further questions ahead of the announcement by Mr Yasuda.
Closure of the Toyota plant will be a massive blow to the Australian car component supply chain, which has estimated that 30,000 jobs rely on retaining at least one car maker.
It follows the hardline stance taken by the Abbott government, led by Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, against industry assistance to the car makers and the fruit processor, SPC Ardmona.
Toyota today confirmed that it would reduce its production in the first half of this year to coincide with a model change in the important Middle Eastern market which accounts for about 70 per cent of Toyota’s Australia’s sales.
This would see Toyota’s usual one-week production break at Easter extended to a fortnight, by bringing forward non-production days from the second half of this year.
Ford Australia has said it will stop local production by October 2016 and, cutting 300 jobs later this year as its reduces output of the Falcon in response to falling sales.
Toyota has said that its parent company will make a decision this year on whether to approve new investment needed to produce a new model Camry.
The Abbott government is expected to make a decision on whether to continue car manufacting industry assistance by around March-April. The Productivity Commission has argued in a draft report that the case for continued assistance is weak.