Toyota Australia has built its 1.5 millionth Camry, after 23 years and several significant export deals, and also recently delivered the five millionth vehicle sold in the country.

The 1.5m milestone marked at an official ceremony at the company’s manufacturing plant in Altona a western suburb of Melbourne in Victoria  state.

The milestone car was the newly introduced hybrid version.

Toyota Australia began making the second generation Camry (the first was imported) in 1987 and the first exports were to neighbouring New Zealand. In 1996 Toyota began shipping fourth generation left-hand-drive models to the Middle East and sixth generation exports continue today; the ‘Aussie’ Camry is a popular choice of taxi drivers there.

Toyota said the Camry was Australia’s leading automotive export earner (GM Holden’s Commodores are also exported to the Middle East and Asia Pacific markets) and, for the past 16 years has als been Australia’s best-selling mid-size car.

Most of each year’s production is now exported. A record 92,000 cars were shipped overseas in 2008 and the total export tally is now arounf 800,000.

Altona began building hybrid versions late last year.

Toyota Australia president and CEO Max Yasuda said Altona was one of eight plants building the Camry worldwide. Other source countries include the US and China.

“This production milestone has been made possible by the foresight and commitment of Toyota and its people, here and in Japan,” Yasuda said.

“Camry is in high demand here in Australia and throughout the world, providing us with a well-balanced business model,” he said.

Toyota is Australia’s largest car manufacturer and for the past seven years has been the market leader – a title it has retained so far in 2010.

Camry is one of the world’s most successful cars with cumulative global sales exceeding 12m.

It first arrived in Australia as a four-cylinder model imported from Japan in relatively low numbers.

When local production of the four-cylinder Camry began in 1987, Australia was the first country outside Japan to build the car.

The pace of local Camry production has quickened over time. It took 12 years to produce the first 500,000, but only six years for the second half million and less than five years for the latest 500,000 cars.

The current car is the sixth-generation Camry.

Toyota Australia also recently sold its five millionth vehicle. It has now sold 2.9m passenger cars and 2.1m commercial vehicles.

The brand officially arrived ‘down under’ in 1963 and only 1,275 cars were sold in the first year. Local assembly of the Tiara, and, later, the Corona and Crown from CKD kits soon began at Australian Motor Industries (AMI) in Melbourne. Toyota Australia later took over the plant before moving production to a new facility at Altona.

In each of the past six years, Toyota has sold more than 200,000 vehicles in Australia and is the only automaker to have reached that number in a year.

Sales in a single year cracked the 100,000 mark for the first time in 1983 – the year Australia won the America’s

The most popular Toyota in Australia is the Corolla with 1.1m sales, representing more than one in five Toyotas sold there.

Australia was the first export market for Corolla and also the first country outside Japan to build the car, from around 1967.

The Camry is the next most-popular Toyota with over 740,000 local sales.

The LandCruiser nameplate totals almost 740,000 local sales. This model actually introduced many Australians to Toyota ahead of the establishment of local sales and assembly facilities – a large number were imported to work on a hydro-electric power project in the late 1950s.