“Our locally made products continue to be unprofitable while our imported products, are profitable.” said Bob Graziano, President & CEO, Ford Australia in a statement to the media today, that laid to rest any doubts over speculations of Ford shutting its manufacturing facilities in Australia.
Ford Australia will shut its manufacturing facilities in Broadmeadows and Geelong, come October 2016. The Broadmeadows facility is a vehicle assembly plant, while the Geelong facility is an engine manufacturing plant. More than 1200 jobs will be lost, and as Graziano put it ‘we will work to maximize deployment elsewhere but realistically we believe those opportunities will be limited’.
He also pointed out that the cost of manufacturing was double that of Europe and four times that of Asia. ‘The business case simply did not stack up… manufacturing is not viable for Ford in Australia anymore’ he said. Ford Australia has lost close to $600 million over the last five years.
Ford has been manufacturing in Australia for close to 90 years now, beginning with the Model T in 1925.
The Ford Falcon’s last flight
The Ford Falcon, is a very Australian car that has a sizable fan following in the country. The Falcon is also Ford’s star in the Australian V8 Supercar Championships. When manufacturing in Australia ceases, Ford will also retire the Falcon brand. Fans have already come forward with their opinion that Ford could do a lot more than just retire the brand.
Falcon sales have been on a downward spiral, but there was hope that a new Falcon would be introduced this year which could improve sales. While the Ford Falcon’s ‘arch nemesis’, the Holden Commodore will be launching the new VF Commodore Calais V sedan – Australia’s most technologically advanced car, they say – this year, Ford will soldier on with the existing Falcon until 2016.
Ford makes its announcement dangerously close to that of the new Holden VF Commodore launch
Ford’s announcement comes at an unfortunate time for Holden, which was supposed to be in the limelight this month with the launch of their new Commodore.
Toby Hagon, a journalist for the Fairfax Media Group was with Holden boss Mike Devereux in the new VF Commodore, for what was supposed to be a sneak preview for auto journalists when Graziano called to give Devereux a heads-up half an hour before the press conference.
Devereux has said that the timing of the announcement was regrettable and refused to comment further. Graziano has said that Ford decided to make the announcement three years in advance to enable a smoother transition for employees and suppliers.
Australia’s Prime Minister has come forward with an announcement that the Government will be providing $40 million assistance to local communities and $10 million to the component suppliers.
Further investment in Ford Australia’s R&D facilities
The Motor Report says last year, Ford Australia’s total investment in R&D was over $270 million dollars, bringing the company’s total R&D investment in Australia the six years to more than $1.9 billion. This happens to be the largest investment any car maker has made in Australia.
Ford Australia’s design centre at Campbellfield has played an active role in the development of the Figo and the EcoSport. More than 900 engineers and designers are employed by this facility, one of only three in the world. The others are in Cologne, Germany and Dearborn, USA.
Ford Australia will accelerate the introduction of new products in Australia following this announcement. If the number of Australian scribes at the recent media drive of the EcoSport in Goa is any indication, the Australians should be getting their hands on the EcoSport soon.