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Toyota Australia has opened a product centre at its so called centre of excellence (CoE) facility in Altona, Victoria.

The product centre brings together all local planning, design, engineering and evaluation teams in the same facility where they will continue to design and develop unique products for Australian and global markets.

These teams were behind such models as the HiLux Rugged X and Rogue. The new facility at the 22-hectare CoE will allow for an unmatched level of collaboration across departments.

Toyota assembled cars in Australia from 1963, later moving into full manufacture which ended in 2017.

Operations chief Mike Rausa said the new facility would give the product design, engineering and evaluation teams more opportunities to create exciting products.

“We’ve already seen what our planning and development teams are capable of, with vehicles like the HiLux Rugged X and Rogue proving to be popular here in Australia and creating accessories that are adopted in markets around the world,” Rausa said.

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“We wanted to retain and build on the capability developed during our long history of vehicle manufacturing, providing a highly collaborative environment that would allow Australian design and engineering expertise and know-how to be utilised within the broad Toyota family.

The product centre is housed inside the former powertrain manufacturing building that produced 2.5m engines from 1978 to 2017.

Toyota Motor Company global president Akio Toyoda had said he wanted to leave a legacy at the Altona manufacturing site.

Toyota has spent about A$40m on construction of the centre, forming part of the $150m overall investment in the CoE.

The CoE includes a Dealership Dojo that provides training and upskilling for dealership staff, plus a centre of education which can be used by schools, government and community groups to learn about sustainability and environmental responsibility.

The CoE also houses a hydrogen centre and hydrogen production, storage and re-fuelling facility with the capacity to produce up to 80kg of hydrogen per day while serving as a commercial-grade refuelling outlet for commercial and passenger fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

The Hydrogen Centre also has servicing facilities for the Mirai FCEV and an education centre.

Product centre teams will be able to make use of the 1.4km-long autodrome test track.

The 55,000 sq m parts centre houses 1.5m parts and is capable of delivering 26,000 daily to dealerships.

The CoE now houses more than half of Toyota’s local workforce.