Toyota Aust will know its fate by mid-year

Toyota says it should know by the middle of the year whether it will keep manufacturing cars in Australia beyond 2018.

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Toyota was Australia’s top-selling brand for the 11th consecutive year in 2013, with nearly 215,000 vehicles sold – almost twice that of nearest rival Holden, according to industry figures released on Monday.

The company also had the most popular vehicle, with the Corolla notching up sales of more than 43,000.

But despite its popularity, Toyota says it has been put under “unprecedented pressure” since Holden announced it would close its Australian manufacturing operations.

In order to continue manufacturing cars here, Toyota Australia will need to win the contract to make the next generation Camry for export, Toyota executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb said.

“Holden’s decision at the end of last year puts unprecedented pressure on Toyota and that makes it more difficult for us to be the sole manufacturer here in Australia,” Mr Cramb said.

“In order to secure that status, we need to earn the next generation of Camry with export.

“We still need to compete with other plants around the globe for the right to produce that vehicle.

“We have an internal transformation project underway at this point in time, to try and reduce our manufacturing costs here in Australia so that we can, in fact, earn that right.

“The decision about the next generation of Camry with export will be made this year, more than likely by the middle of the year.”

Australians bought a record number of motor vehicles in 2013, helped by increasing demand for sports utility vehicles (SUV), the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said.

More than 1.13 million vehicles were sold nation-wide during the year, up from 1.11 million in 2012.

Of the Australian-made cars, sales of Holden Commodore slipped nine per cent to 28,000, while Toyota Camry sales were also down nine per cent to 25,000 and the Holden Cruze fell 32 per cent to 24,421.

Holden announced late last year it would close its local manufacturing operations by 2017, while Ford has said it will close its Geelong and Broadmeadows factories in 2016.