Which country builds more luxury cars

Why Australia no longer builds cars

Toyota has stopped production, and General Motors will close the last Australian car factory in just over two weeks. The unions complain - and are probably complicit.

After more than half a century, the Japanese auto company Toyota has ceased production in Australia. The last vehicle rolled off the assembly line on Tuesday at the Altona North plant, a suburb of Melbourne. The Camry will end up in a museum in Japan. 2,700 employees lose their jobs. Victoria State's Minister of Industry, Wade Noonan, spoke of a "terribly sad day".

Car production in Australia is now on the brink of collapse. In its heyday there were four automakers “Down Under”. Mitsubishi closed its doors in 2008. In 2013, the US manufacturers Ford and General Motors decided to withdraw. Ford did it the previous year. On October 20th, Holden, part of General Motors, will cease production near Adelaide. Then no more cars will be produced on the fifth continent - at last it was around 150,000 annually.

Small market, long distances, high costs

With their decision four years ago, the Americans also sealed the fate of Toyota on site. The supplier companies cannot live from a single manufacturer because the quantities would be too small for profitable production. The unions estimate that they lose five times as many jobs as the car manufacturers themselves. But you are probably not entirely innocent of the development: An ex-Toyota manager said that the overly combative and inflexible attitude of the unions contributed to the exit decision.

The reasons are of course even deeper: The local sales figures remained low, also because of the highly fragmented market. Most of the models have been imported for a long time. Conversely, the high local labor costs and the long transport routes make exports from Australia, which would have made higher quantities possible, difficult and unattractive.

The Australian state wants to cushion the closure of the Toyota plant with a program equivalent to around 66 million euros. The unions suspect that many of the workers will not find another job despite a retraining program. According to her, only about a third have a new job so far. Nevertheless, the employees said goodbye, as it should be in Australia: with a barbecue party.