Australian Automaking: The Free Market Be Damned

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Struth! It's a pretty bizarre state of affairs for automakers down under. Despite Toyota's status as Australia's largest vehicle importer (138,640 vehicles year-to-date), the automaker's calling for the Australian government NOT to lower import tariffs below 10 percent. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald at the Tokyo motor show, Toyota's executive vice-president of global product planning warned that lowering the Ozzie tariff risked crushing the country's exports. Here's the deal. Toyota builds Camrys in Melbourne. If it can't sell enough Camrys locally, then it makes it harder to justify keeping the plant open to export the vehicle to countries in the region. Tokuichi Uranishi reminded the Herald that Melbourne competes for biz with the six other Camry factories worldwide. And a strong Australian dollar isn't helping matters– at all. But the country's Automotive Competitiveness and Investment Scheme (ACIS) is; the feds have pledged import tariff rebates on cars and components worth AUS $7b between 2000 and 2015. So where does all this leave Ford, Holden and Mitsubishi's home-grown products? Splitting less than 20 percent of Oz' domestic market, down from 50 percent ten years ago.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Ryan Knuckles Ryan Knuckles on Oct 26, 2007

    If I wore a turban, I would most definitely drive a convertible. Where's the Solara?

  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Oct 26, 2007

    It has been my personal observation that the majority of the cars sold in AU are the sub-compacts made by Toyota, Nissan, and Hyundai. The cars made in Oz are larger mid-sized models, such as the Holden Commodores, Ford Falcons, Toyota Camary's, and the Mitsubishi 380. They are competing in a small slice of the total car market. So the buyers are snapping up small Asian import cars, despite the tariffs. What Toyota is saying, if I read this right, is that they make plenty of money with the Corollas they import in. They just want to make sure the mid-sized market doesn't dry up completely so they can make Camry's for the Middle East an Asian markets.