Nissan Australia's casting plant is firmly back in profit and there are no plans to close it, a local report said.

The development, reported by local auto industry publication GoAutoNews, is a rare gliimer of good news for a country whose remaining three car manufacturing plants, operated by Ford, General Motors' Holden and Toyota, will all have closed by 2017 at the latest.

Ironically, the Nissan Australia car plant in Clayton, for which the foundry in Dandenong South, Victoria, was built in 1982 to supply, closed a decade later.

There were fears back in 2010 the castings plant could close but efficiency gains, including energy savings amounting to A$250,000 a year, have helped secure the long-term viability of what looks likely to become the last remaining Australian factory run by a major global car maker, GoAuto said.

The plant employs 143 full time workers and 21 part-timers working three shifts, six days a week.

It turns out about 2m aluminium components for Nissan vehicles built in several countries, including Japan, Thailand, Mexico and the United States.

A new $1.8m tower furnace – installed last year – replaces three less efficient furnaces in the plant’s aluminium casting operations, helping to stem rising energy costs that had dented the plant’s viability, especially with the extra burden of a local carbon tax.

A third of the investment – $616,000 – was paid by the federal government under the Clean Technology and Food and Foundry Investment Program, Go Auto noted.

The new furnace followed a $21mn overhaul of the casting operations in 2012 – a project also partly funded by the federal government by a $3.3m coinvestment grant under the now-defunct Green Car Innovation Fund.

That and other developments, including local R&D of casting technology, enabled Nissan Casting Australia to win a global contract to make several complex powertrain castings for the Leaf EV.

Other parts, such as transmission housings, cylinder heads and oil pan assemblies, are made for Nissan and Infiniti models assembled in a number of countries and some parts come back to Australia in completed vehicles from Japan and Thailand.

Though about 95% of the factory’s output is exported, some parts are made for Albury’s Drivetrain Systems International (DSI) – owned by Geely – which makes and exports automatic transmissions for SsangYong and Mahindra.