The Age. The Australian state of Victoria is in talks with Toyota over adding Prius production to its plant in Altona, Victoria.
Currently, Toyota employs 4,500 people and makes 100,000 internal combustion engine cars annually in Victoria, 60% of them for export to the Middle East. The government sees Prius production as a way to help guarantee the future of the motor industry in Victoria, even as oil prices rise.
Victoria’s Minister for Manufacturing and Export, Andre Haermeyer, confirmed the discussions, which are at an early stage, but said that everything depended on a rise in local demand for the Prius or the opening of new export markets.
“The petrol-driven six cylinder isn’t dead, but we want to make sure that we are positioned for when and if these new technologies take off. Clearly, we would like to see hybrids produced here in Australia.”
Toyota is opening hybrid assembly operations in China and the US, but currently has no plans to build the car in Australia.
The Federal Minister for Industry, Resources and Tourism, Ian Macfarlane, said that Australia’s car makers, Ford, Holden, Toyota and Mitsubishi, were “actively working out where they fit into their parent company plans for hybrid vehicles.”
“I urge them to cut a slice of the action, because Australia is just the sort of market to grasp such an opportunity,” he said.
Prime Minister John Howard will be pitching the opportunity during an upcoming visit to Canberra by Dr Shoichiro Toyoda, the chairman of Toyota, a member of its board and scion of its founding family.