Tokyo - Toyota said Monday it would stop making cars in Australia in a move that would leave the country with no auto manufacturing, despite appeals by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The Japanese auto giant, the world's biggest vehicle maker, said production of vehicles and engines would stop at the end of 2017, throwing into doubt 3,900 jobs at its Altona plant in a Melbourne suburb and another 150 jobs at a separate design facility. Abbott had previously sought talks with Toyota to persuade them to keep its plants open and prevent a complete collapse of Australia's car manufacturing industry. The news comes just months after General Motors' subsidiary GM Holden said it will shut down its manufacturing plants in Australia by 2017 with the loss of 2,900 jobs. In May, US giant Ford also said it would stop making vehicles at its unprofitable Australian factories in 2016, with the loss of 1,200 jobs. Toyota said Monday it would discuss more details at a press conference in Melbourne at 0700 GMT, according to a Tokyo-based spokeswoman. "We believed that we should continue producing vehicles in Australia, and Toyota and its workforce here made every effort," Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in a statement. "However, various negative factors such as an extremely competitive market and a strong Australian dollar, together with forecasts of a reduction in the total scale of vehicle production in Australia, have forced us to make this painful decision." The automaker added that for those "who will be impacted by this decision, Toyota intends to provide the best support it can, including employment assistance". Toyota started manufacturing cars in Australia in the early sixties and still produces its top-selling Camry sedan and other models in the country.