Was Toyota ever a stayer?

It was pretty good of Mr Toyoda to travel to Australia to announce the closure of Toyota’s local operations from 2017.  And is typical of Japanese company men, both he and Max were very polite and very diplomatic.  (I think I have developed a bit of crush on Max.)

But here’s the thing – was Toyota ever a stayer?  The company has been really raking in Commonwealth and other government dough in the past few years.  And note that the company had a prolonged dispute with the Australian Tax Office over transfer pricing. The company had to pay a large fine and back taxes.

While it is true that Toyota Australia was a significant exporter of cars, it has to be recognised that these export patterns were determined by head office (Ford, by contrast, would not allow its local operation to export) and the scope for transfer pricing probably played a role in these decisions.  It is not as if Toyota Australia went out on its own to secure export markets based on price and quality of its products.

And here is another consideration:

A panellist on a current affairs program related an instance many would have missed. Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda, was giving a luncheon address to a business group, (paraphrased):
“Two years ago we were working so hard to create conditions whereby we could stay in this wonderful country and produce cars.
“We had restructured the business and, despite acceding to recent union demands for even better wages and conditions, we were seeing a dim light flickering at the end of the tunnel.
“We were honest with our employees and had explained the seriousness of the company’s economic plight.
“They had assured us of their cooperation, so we determined to all pull together in a desperate attempt keep the company viable.
“There was an air of camaraderie, a feeling of hope.
“It was Australia Day that week and it fell on a Thursday. On the Friday thirty percent of our workforce didn’t turn up, thirty percent called in sick.
“That’s when I finally realised we were stuffed.”

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32 Responses to Was Toyota ever a stayer?

  1. I am the Walrus, koo koo k'choo

    A brilliant and telling anecdote.

    So often, it’s not the numbers and analytics which crystallise a decision in a person’s mind, but an experience which encapsulates an entire problem and reveals that there is only one way forward, one option which has to be selected.

    Now, let’s get cheaper cars for all Australians.

  2. MT Isa Miner

    J, M and Joseph. What a hit to targets that was. That’s desertion that was, grounds for divorce even under the old laws.

    Or maybe provocation that should have started a war but management were dickless. Collier said in the Australian: blame unions and management. The management must have been piss weak but maybe they were/are like battered wives too tired, too emotionally scarred to fight the abuse.

  3. Rodney

    Everything is fad and fashion. Car industry workers are victimised heroes. regardless of reality.

    When fad and fashion dictated that thousands of timber workers lose their jobs there was no sympathy and little compensation. Indeed many who owned homes in small towns lost heavily.
    you could argue that they were mugs because many of them were long term union members.

  4. Rabz

    I will say one thing in Toyota’s defence.

    They have been able to achieve the seemingly impossible – design and manufacture cars that are even uglier than Holdens.

    努力!

  5. JC

    Taste of course is personal, but I don’t really think the present day Holden is an ugly car.

  6. Rabz

    ああ、どのような気持ち!

  7. Anne

    ああ、どのような気持ち!

    Feel pretty good thanks Rabz, how you?

  8. Anne

    私のアウディは、非常に良い車です !

  9. Riverina Matt

    Taste of course is personal, but I don’t really think the present day Holden is an ugly car

    Agreed – the current Commodore line is quite stylish – an order of magnitude better looking than the Falcons and Camrys.

  10. Steve

    I bet the ABC wont share that gem to protect their Union / Labor buddies – benefactors

  11. Alfonso

    “It was Australia Day that week and it fell on a Thursday. On the Friday thirty percent of our workforce didn’t turn up, thirty percent called in sick.
    “That’s when I finally realised we were stuffed.”

    Only reactionaries think it had anything at all to do with the Union and work practices. Bwaaa.

  12. I don’t want to be a party pooper, but blockquotes should have sources.

    The only corroboration I can find for this quote from Toyota appears at the Pickering post, and I’m guessing one stole it from the other.

  13. Judith Sloan

    Maybe Yobbo, but here is a quote from Max Yasuda, Toyota Australia President (see AFR), “If you don’t work Friday, it is a long weekend right? In this country, in our plant, they just don’t come in and later on they ask for sick leave”. Same message, Yobs.

  14. eb

    Hey Rabz, 25th anniversary of the launch of the MX-5 today.

    Now that’s a good looking car!

  15. Rabz

    eb – Mazda has always had the ability to produce groundbreaking, aesthetically pleasing vehicles.

    Unlike some other ‘manufacturers’ I could name.

  16. adrian

    Mazda has always had the ability to produce groundbreaking, aesthetically pleasing vehicles.

    and lose lots of money in the process.

  17. Habib

    Unless you were getting slings and tax breaks, why on earth would any sentient being invest capital in this soviet morass of rent seekers, hoons, halfwits and panhandlers?

  18. OldOzzie

    Yobbo
    #1185892, posted on February 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm
    I don’t want to be a party pooper, but blockquotes should have sources.

    The only corroboration I can find for this quote from Toyota appears at the Pickering post, and I’m guessing one stole it from the other.

    It was mentioned last night on on Paul Murray Live on Sky News – http://www.skynews.com.au/video/?vId=4334279&cId=Interviews&play=true

    Watch from -3.20 where Max Yusada in a presentation to Fair Work Australia on Australia Day that fell on Thursday 2012, 30% took sick leave on the Friday and that was the point where he realised that Toyota was not going to work – listen to Graham Richardson, as well his reply to that

  19. Habib

    BTW, the reason the current Commode isn’t too bad is that it’s based on the Cadillac CTS, although slower, thirstier and less well equipped. And more expensive. Even with the yokes of the EPA, UAW and NHTSA, the parent companies build a better, cheaper car. And classier.

  20. Walter Plinge

    They have been able to achieve the seemingly impossible – design and manufacture cars that are even uglier than Holdens.

    I’ve thought the same thing for quite a while. In the Camry line the front end’s bland and inoffensive but the rear has been a horse’s a… for some years.

  21. Armadillo

    Taste of course is personal, but I don’t really think the present day Holden is an ugly car.

    JC, I reckon you have unwittingly said exactly what is wrong with the Australian car industry. Take Mercedes as an example here. They had a good looking car in their 300? Series. Nice body and it looks prestigious. They stuck with it and kept manufacturing it year after year. Mercedes only changes the body about once a decade. It gives consumers a few very important advantages.

    Firstly, their brand is known for quality/reliability (along with prestiege) besides just looking good. They haven’t stuffed around with a winning combination by changing their model every year/second year.

    Secondly, you could buy a 1998 model and no-one could distinquish it from a 2000 model (provided it was well look after). It doesn’t ‘date’.

    Next, most of the parts are interchangeable – you have a ready supply of second hand parts as the older models become cheaper and end up in accidents and so on.

    Finally, you can buy an older or newer car and ‘customise’ the interior/exterior to your own taste at very little cost. With the ‘internet’ you can change the entire interior (dashboard/doors/seats) from wood/hammered metal/charcoal finish – one size fits all models. The amount of stuff you can buy on line at a reasonable price is astounding, and it all fits regardless of the year model.

  22. Habib

    Except try getting service and parts for a Benz here without taking out a second mortgage. They even go out of their way to shut out non MB agencies. Thank jeebus for teh interwebs,m my missus insisted on an A class, despite my best advice. A 10,000 kms car has had her in tears several times until I’ve sorted things, but not everyone’s hooked up with a trade professional with motor trade contacts.

  23. .

    What about BMW? Looking at a late model second hand BMW sedan. Cna’t I just take it to those paper bag over the head merchants, ultra tune?

    rabz is right

    Toyotas are fucking ugly. They’ve actually tried to make the camry more lame and conservative.

  24. Armadillo

    Except try getting service and parts for a Benz here without taking out a second mortgage.

    Yeah, probably lucky here in that regard. Our mechanic is Croatian and his first job was in a Mercedes factory in Europe putting them together. He knows them inside out. Had mine serviced only last week – 60 bucks. He buys ones that have been in accidents and strips them down. Parts are never a problem and cheap. He’s as honest as the day is long and he actually has customers drive the5 hours up from Sydney just to go to him. The dealerships on the other hand are rip-off merchants. The one I had last time had 650,000 on the clock (diesel) by the time I finished with it. Had to buy one part for 250 bucks plus an hours labour to install it. I’d still be driving it except for a hail storm (and even then the insurance company gave me 2.5 times what I paid for it second hand off this guy 8 years earlier).

  25. Habib

    Camrys are doing Ok in NASCAR, with V8 and a body that looks like a Dodge.

  26. Chris M

    Wow, 30% staff down would kill the production line for that day.

    So where to from here? When will the 5% import duty be scrapped? When will automotive ADR’s be dropped? Will parallel import be approved immediately?

  27. OldOzzie

    Yobbo
    #1185892, posted on February 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm
    I don’t want to be a party pooper, but blockquotes should have sources.

    The only corroboration I can find for this quote from Toyota appears at the Pickering post, and I’m guessing one stole it from the other.

    You can add Financial Review 7 February 2012 – http://www.afr.com/p/national/work_space/absenteeism_reflects_sick_organisation_QvCKWp1Cz5dtUNGF1rdhaN

    Absenteeism reflects sick organisation

    PUBLISHED: 07 FEB 2012 00:04:00 | UPDATED: 07 FEB 2012 07:47:26

    JASON MURPHY, FIONA SMITH AND PETER ROBERTS

    Peter Wilson, the national president of Australian Human Resources Institute, says high absenteeism can be the result of poor leadership. Photo: Tamara Voninski

    The “Great Australian Sickie” is costing employers a fortune, but few organisations are taking the relatively simple steps required to fix the problem.

    When the president and chief executive of Toyota Motor Corporation Australia, Max Yasuda, complained to The Australian Financial Review last week about high levels of absenteeism, he reignited the perennial debate about unplanned absences.

    Yasuda says as many as 30 per cent of employees in some part of the plant will take the day off as a “sickie” if a Friday work day follows a Thursday public holiday – as was the case with Australia Day recently.

  28. Ed

    Wait a moment.
    You’re telling me the CEO of Toyota is Mr Toyoda?
    :-0

  29. Seza

    Toyoda is the family name, but it was changed to appeal more to Western ears. He may be part of the family.

  30. Andrew

    You’re telling me the CEO of Toyota is Mr Toyoda?
    :-0

    This surprises you?

  31. Chris M

    If Gillard was still in all we would be hearing right now is about ‘Toyoda’.

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