Toyota Australia yesterday announced a $6.3 million loss for the past year – despite winning market leadership and doubling exports to $1 billion. The loss, booked on record domestic and export sales of $5.4 billion, sent shockwaves throughout the automotive industry Down Under.
Toyota’s bottom line for 2000 compared with an after-tax profit of $16 million in 1999. Toyota Australia’s president Ken Asano blamed the plunging value of the Australian dollar for the loss. Senior executive vice president John Conomos yesterday admitted Toyota had been losing money on almost every imported model in the second half of the year due to the faltering dollar. Mr Conomos said: “We would foresee this situation to continue at least for the next 12 months.
He said Toyota would increase prices of its cars and commercials by up to 4 per cent from Monday, following rises of a similar scale in January. He refused to rule out further price rises unless the Aussie unit rebounded.
Holden booked a profit of $237 million for the year on a turnover just below $5 billion. Mitsubishi Motors Australia expects to announce its biggest-ever loss of $186 million for 2000 and Ford Australia has forecast it too will lose money. Mr Conomos said the dollar had devalued 40 per cent against the yen in the past two years while price increases had recovered less than 10 per cent. “To recover currency losses fully, we would have to increase prices by 10 per cent – and that’s not realistic.”
Toyota’s export revenue rose by 50 per cent to top $1 billion for the first time. This was achieved by the shipment of 45,600 cars and 9400 completely knocked down (CKD) kits for overseas assembly. Toyota sold 158,908 vehicles in Australia to win the No 1 title and 20.2 per cent of the local market. Mr Asano said he expected demand for new cars in Australia would fall this year in line with a slowdown in the economy.
However, he expected exports to grow to around 50,000 units. He said Toyota planned to ramp up production of Camry and Avalon by between five to ten percent this year.
This year, Toyota plans to undertake major capital expenditure of around $200 to $250 million, a large proportion of which is associated with development of a new model and a new four-cylinder engine for production in 2002.
Toyota’s operating profit (after tax)
Author Mike Duffy, Motoring Editor Advertiser Newspapers Limited.
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