Thursday, February 20, 2014

Toyota Thailand may get Toyota Australia Altona engine line

As we suggested, following the news Toyota would end manufacturing in Australia from 2017, it now appears the automaker already has plans for its near new engine manufacturing line.

Sources have told Australian auto industry publication GoAutoNews the A$331m Altona engine plant - which makes the Camry and Camry Hybrid I4 engines - is likely to end up in Thailand at Siam Toyota Manufacturing.

Australia has a free trade agreement with Thailand which ships thousands of vehicles 'down under' every year from Ford, Mazda, Isuzu, Honda, Nissan and Toyota plants. Toyota Australia switched sourcing its Corolla sedan from Japan to Thailand with the recent 2014 model year redesign.

The company officially said no decision had been made on what would happen to the engine manufacturing equipment after Altona production ends in 2017 but GoAuto said it had been told that Toyota Australia executives are speculating privately that Thailand is the logical destination for the machinery that was partly funded by Australian taxpayers.

It would also be logical for more Camrys to be built there for all ASEAN, Australiasian and Far East markets though the model could also be sourced from the US which is now supplying the new Kluger SUV (Highlander), replacing Japan.

GoAuto noted Toyota's Altona factory already exports engines to Thailand where they are fitted to Camrys and Camry Hybrids built at Toyota Motor Thailand’s Gateway assembly plant, about 100km east of Bangkok.

As that plant will need a fresh source of 2.5-litre four-cylinder engines after Altona closes, it makes sense to relocate that production line to Toyota’s existing engine manufacturing factory in Thailand, Siam Toyota Manufacturing, in nearby Chonburi.

GoAuto said other equipment from the Altona car assembly plant might also end up in Thailand, which is the likely source of Camry and the related V6 Aurion for Australia once Altona shuts down.

Toyota Australia media and external affairs manager Beck Angel told GoAuto no decision had been made on what Toyota would do with its factory equipment post-2017 or where the Camry and Aurion would be imported from.

Toyota shut a CKD kit assembly plant in neighbouring New Zealand in 1998 and the assembly equipment, including costly body jig equipment, reportedly went to a similar plant in Pakistan.

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