I’M RELIABLY INFORMED THAT PERSPECTIVE AND INSIGHT ARE WONDERFUL THINGS, YET HAVING EXPERIENCED A DOSE OF BOTH THIS MONTH, I’D ARGUE THEY CAN ALSO BE DECIDEDLY UNCOMFORTABLE. MY MOMENT OF ILLUMINATION ARRIVED AS I CONSIDERED THE CLOSURE OF
Toyota’s Australian factory and pondered why, try as I might, I didn’t feel as upset as when I thought about the fates of Ford and Holden.
The core of my conundrum is simple, of course. Unlike Australia’s own, which produced generations of exciting, lust-worthy performance variants and then threw them around the nation’s racetracks to ensnare new fans with their snarling V8s, I have no emotional connection to the cars produced at Altona. I’ve never owned a Toyota. I’ve never even lusted after one; well, none made in Australia at least, mostly because Toyota’s model range has always been more vanilla.
It’s hard to get all hot and sweaty about a Camry, a fact that has long been a thorn in the side of Toyota’s Australian arm. For decades local execs have desperately tried to inject some sizzle and aspiration into their model range, with limited success. MR2S,
The reality is that for Toyota customers, very little will change come closure time on October 3. For decades the brand has been synonymous with reliability and dependability, built around fuss-free engineering and backed up by one of the largest dealer networks in the country. Its hold on the rural market is without peer, its attractiveness to the bean counters who control large company fleets unwavering, and its position atop the Australian sales charts absolute. Where Holden and Ford’s end dates coincide with the death of locally made heroes loved by enthusiasts, Toyota’s transition to an importonly business will be less emotionally taxing, at least in the product sense.
Where the Altona closure really hits home is when you consider the human side of the story. Shuttering the factory doors will shed more than 2500 jobs, with the fallout to send shockwaves through the