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End of local manufacturing to spawn ad war

Even without local car manufacturing, the Australian car industry will still be competitive.

We have two years until the end of car manufacturing in Australia, completing a 100-year history that is part of our national identity.

It is a painful, drawn-out loss as first Ford, then Holden and finally Toyota lock their gates. Countless schemes have attempted to save the industry but the end was, in hindsight, inevitable.

Just in the past seven years some $10 billion in subsidies from state and federal governments failed to revitalise the industry.

How much was it costing each of us taxpayers so that a dwindling number of enthusiasts could drive their favourite Holden or Ford?

Even if we don't weld our cars any more, all the other functions are performed locally

In fact we have always paid high taxes to support the industry. For much of the past century it was in the form of tariffs, reaching nearly 60 per cent. As we are reminded regularly, call it what you like but in the end it is a tax.

But let's remember: even if we don't weld our cars any more, all the other functions are performed locally. They are imported, marketed, sold, fuelled and serviced as much as ever, so don't take off your marketing jacket.

In fact, if you are involved in selling cars, you'll be busier than ever. Australia offers 64 brands, more new cars than anywhere else in the world. Even the US only has about 50. They will be coming from Europe, America, China, Korea, Japan, Thailand - as they have been for years.

Such a crowded choice makes marketing a nightmare. How do you differentiate your model from all the rest? They all look so shiny, fast, desirable, driven by sexy girls and hunky men.

There will no longer be the "buy local" urge among drivers or fleets

The iconic labels will remain; Holden is planning to bring in Germany's Opel Insignia and there is much debate about whether to badge it "Commodore". You can be sure similar arguments can be heard in the Ford and Toyota offices.

From the customer's point of view, the next few years will be a good time to buy a car, with the many manufacturers jostling for market share, putting downward pressure on prices and sugaring the benefits.

Car companies will need to pay much more attention to each brand's positioning and message. There will no longer be the "buy local" urge among drivers or fleets. Pricing and status will be focal points.

As brands are forced to develop personalities, let's hope we see a resurgence in creative advertising - the clever, witty ads of the Bernbach and Ogilvy era, to make the ads stand up and be noticed.

They will need it. A whole new market will explode on top of this. The electric cars are queuing up to enter.

Ford will have its Focus at $43,000 with 122km range; the BMW i3 at $65,000 with 200km in its batteries. But crowning them all, Tesla claims a range of up to 500km, though its car costs $100,000.

At the moment electric car sales are hampered by availability and price but these are being resolved.

New technology for batteries is also emerging from the university labs, which will transform the major drag on EV sales: the fear of running out of juice.

In a year or two we'll see a competitive petrol versus electric car market. So let me reassure you, though the mammoth factories may be no more, you have not see the last of shiny-suited car salesmen spruiking on your telly.