Ford looks set to announce that it is shutting down its Australian manufacturing operations this morning.
We’ll find out the details shortly, but this is a sledgehammer blow to the country’s car industry the day immediately after the Ford’s main competitor, Holden, revealed its new Commodore model which it says is “everything you could ever want in a car”.
Holden boss Mike Devereux believes the VF Calais – a beast of a car stacked with electronics – will see continuing market demand for years into the future. It’s a big roll of the dice from Holden, which they’ll be hoping will sustain the company’s operations over the coming years.
Australians are increasingly buying smaller imported cars — the Mazda 3 toppled the Commodore as Australia’s most popular car two years ago.
Car sales have been healthy in the past year in Australia – up more than 7% year on year in April, but sales of locally-made cars have been on an inexorable slide.
Put simply, Australians increasingly want either smaller cars for running about in the city or bigger SUVs for busing the family around.
The iconic Commodore and Ford’s Falcon fit neither demand. The product line is falling between two seats.
Last month the three top-selling cars in Australia were the Toyota Corolla, a hatchback, the Toyota Hilux, an SUV, and the Mazda 3, another small runabout.
Holden’s Cruze, also a small car, and the runabout Hyundai i30 rounded out the top five.
There’s a lot of misty-eyed nostalgia in the commentary about the shift in the car choices of Australians but when people get to actual purchase decisions, the practical offerings and the price points of imported models are crushing the local products.
Holden has committed to continuing to build cars in Australia until 2022 after securing $275 million from the government last year.
Ford also received money last year – a $34 million co-investment grant with Ford – to continue operations until 2016.
There are around 3500 people employed at its factories in Broadmeadows and Geelong, making the company a hugely significant contributor to those regional towns’ economies.
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