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Ford's Australian Manufacturing Business Comes to an End

Ford's Australian Manufacturing Business Comes to an End
Marking the end of Ford's 91-year history of car-making in a country that simultaneously fell out of love with big cars and manufacturing, the last Australian-made six-cylinder Ford Falcon rolled off an assembly line earlier last week end.
A move by the famed car company to close in Japan and Indonesia, where it sees "no reasonable path to profitability" is also being conducted by the company at the same time. this move or the end of operations is to be mirrored by GM Holden and Toyota Australia next year.
After the Australian governing center-right coalition cut subsidies to the sector, the role of government in propping up ailing sectors and the future of the economy have been put into question by the impending death of car manufacturing in Australia and has sparked heated debate.
The Ford workers "handled themselves with magnificent dignity" on their last day, Dave Smith, national vehicle division secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union said.
"It's a shame for Australia because I think we lose so much when we no longer have vehicle manufacturing. But, you know, that's part of history now," Smith told journalists at the Ford factory in the Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows.
In the state of Victoria, where Ford's Australian operations are headquartered, about 600 Ford workers are losing their jobs. Redeployment to design and engineering roles with the company is being done for 160 Ford manufacturing employees separately.
It was an honor to see the last Falcon XR6 produced even while it was a difficult day, said Ford Australia chief executive Graeme Whickman. Rather than selling privately, the last manufactured cars would be put on show, he said.
Changing tastes as motorists turn against the locally made, big passenger cars Ford and Holden are traditionally known for, for overseas-made small cars and sports utilities, has been responsible to an extent for the decline of Australia's manufacturing industry - employment in the sector out of total employment dropped from 13.4 percent in 2005 to 7.8 percent last year.

In 2013 when the Australian dollar was above parity against the U.S. dollar, making local manufacturing uncompetitive, car manufacturers had started making decisions to close down Australian operations.
The car-maker dominated sales in the 1980s with its sedans and "utes", or utility vehicles, but then fell behind when buying trends changed, retired Ford dealer Martin van Koldenhoven, from rural Western Australia, told Reuters.
"Be it light commercial or four-wheel-drives or small cars, they seemed to be a step behind. The market shifted and Ford didn't shift fast enough. It's a sad day - perhaps I'll fly my Ford flag at half-mast," van Koldenhoven said.
Both carmakers, Ford and Holden, have not seen the large supporter networks translated into sales even though Australian car enthusiasts grew up watching Ford battle Holden at the Bathurst 1000 touring car race in New South Wales.
According to September sales data for the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, both brands trail Toyota, Mazda and Hyundai.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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