Toyota's Altona factory builds on design and engineering excellence
The new ‘Centre of Excellence' is home to globally recognised design, engineering and validation.
Toyota is back building cars at its Altona factory. This time around, the line is boutique rather than mass-production and focuses on two variants of Australia’s top-selling car, the Toyota HiLux.
The accessories that constitute the HiLux Rogue and HiLux Rugged X are fitted on a production line comprised of 50 staff who form part of the 700 workers at Toyota Australia’s ‘Centre of Excellence', located on the 22-hectare site of its former car plant.
General manager of product planning and development, Rod Ferguson, said the new facilities will enable Toyota Australia to develop products for the local and overseas markets.
“Our design and engineering teams are highly utilised by Toyota affiliates around the world, thanks to their exceptional ability to create products that resonate with customers across the globe,” Mr Ferguson said.
“The new Toyota Product Centre ensures Toyota’s legacy of locally developed products will continue for decades to come.”
Domestic HiLux production
Known as ‘TCon' for Toyota Construction, the team builds 14 Rogue and 11 Rugged X models every day. All vehicles are subjected to the same quality assurance checks as any of Toyota’s factory-built products, right down to standardized lighting bays.
The parts that constitute the Rogue and Rugged X, were conceived by the 42-member design department and then evaluated by the product development team, both of which operate on the same premises.
The designs are the most striking examples of the facility, given a pantheon of concept and locally designed production vehicles adorn the main entrance.
The facilities at the $150 million site may be small on a global scale but are cutting-edge when it comes to the technology and methodology applied and ensure the Melbourne complex is one of just 13 global Toyota hubs approved to develop and validate branded genuine accessories.
The most obvious examples of that adorn the LandCruiser 300 in the form of rook racks and bull bars.
The Vehicle Evaluation and Development (VED) team have been working on engineering and testing parts for that vehicle since 2014, with prototype examples sent to Japan to be installed on vehicles undergoing testing at the corporate headquarters, as well as being tested in local situations.
VED Manager Ray Munday said Australia’s diverse geography means the only parameters that can’t be assessed here are extreme cold and extreme altitude.
“We also have uniquely challenging conditions like varying amplitude corrugations and bulldust, both of which can pose serious challenges for vehicles,” Mr. Munday said.
“When you install extra weight on a vehicle, we have to be able to assess what stresses is that component undergoing and what additional stress is being imparted on the chassis.”