Toyota to open Australian hybrid engine plant

The future of green cars in Australia looks bright, following the opening of a brand new petrol-electric hybrid engine plant in Altona, Melbourne earlier this month.

Toyota Australia officially opened the plant on December 6, and in the process became the first car manufacturer in this country to begin production on both petrol and hybrid engines.

Prime minister Julia Gillard was on hand to witness the ceremony, as were a number of other delegates including Victorian premier Ted Baillieu and federal minister for industry and innovation Greg Combet.

Chief executive officer of Toyota Australia Max Yasuda noted that the plant was a significant milestone for the marque.

"The official opening of the new engine plant is part of our overall mission to transform our operations and build a more sustainable business," said Mr Yasuda.

"We are now one of only four countries in the world to produce the AR four cylinder engine and are the first Australian car manufacturer to produce petrol-electric hybrid engines."

Earlier this month, the Australian government reaffirmed its commitment towards promoting locally made vehicles by appointing the first ever Automotive Supplier Advocate, whose role will involve identifying ways to increase the amount of Australian-made vehicle purchases by fleets.

Mr Yasuda said that he was a "true believer in local car making", and noted that Toyota was working to ensure that it would be able to continue producing vehicles in Australia for many years to come.

Hybrid engines, with a greater degree of petrol efficiency and reduced C02 emissions, will likely play an important role in ensuring that national fuel consumption rates continue to decrease.

The new $330 million engine plant is located west of Melbourne and will purportedly output around 108,000 four cylinder 2.5 litre engines per annum for Australian-built Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid sedans.

Funding has been sourced from both the Victorian state government and the federal government, through the Green Car Innovation Fund.