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Ford Falcon, Territory and Holden Cruze lines cease today as auto manufacturing in Australia winds down.
The Australian auto manufacturing industry began its final march into oblivion today, as two car-making lines at Ford’s Broadmeadows plant in Victoria and one at Holden’s Elizabeth factory in Adelaide shut down for the final time today.
A steady flood of cheaper, better-equipped imported cars, the deregulation of trade agreements with manufacturing nations such as Thailand and a failure of the car companies themselves to predict buyer trends in the local market are just a few of the reasons that Ford’s US head office in Deerborn, Michigan and General Motors chiefs in Detroit instructed their subsidiary operations to pull out of local manufacturing.
The closure of the lines will also have a knock-on affect on an estimated 15,000 workers in related supply chain industries.
At the same time, Ford’s body stamping plant in Geelong will also close.
Today is an emotional day for all of us at Ford
More than 600 workers will leave Ford this afternoon holding an estimated redundancy package the equivalent of two year’s pay, with more than half not moving immediately into other employment.
Ford has provided its employees with access to retraining and job markets in the three-year lead-up to the closure.
Holden, meanwhile, will shed 270 employees from its South Australian operation by the end of October, though approximately 30 workers will stay on for a longer period to facilitate the build of an additional 1000 Commodore-based Chevrolet SS sedans for the US market.
The final three Fords from Broadmeadows – a blue Falcon XR6 sedan, a silver Territory Titanium and a grey XR6 Ute will be kept by the company. The Falcon and Territory will be affixed with special compliance plates that will prevent the pair from ever being registered.
A further three examples from the final run of cars will be auctioned to raise funds for various causes, including student robotics programs in Geelong.
The Ute quietly ceased production in July this year, with more than 479,000 examples built since 1961.
The Broadmeadows closure brings to a close 91 years of auto manufacturing in Australia by Ford Australia, with more than six million vehicles being built at the facility since 1960.
Holden’s business is changing and we are building a bright future, but it is equally important to recognise and honour our people and our heritage
“Today is an emotional day for all of us at Ford,” said Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman. “We are saying goodbye to some of our proud and committed manufacturing employees and marking an end to 91 years of manufacturing in Australia.
“But, as the country’s largest automotive investor and soon employer, we have been able to transfer many employees from our plants to our design, engineering and testing facilities across Victoria.”
The final Holden Cruze, a red SRI hatch, will be auctioned off to raise funds for the Leukaemia Foundation, according to Holden.
More than 126,000 locally-designed Cruzes were built in Adelaide from 2011, with the line opened by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The end of Cruze production also marks the end of four-cylinder car production in Australia, which dates back to the 1950s for Holden.
The South Australian facility will remain open until the end of 2017, when both Holden and Toyota will shutter their remaining car lines, bringing to a close Australia’s ability – a rare one in the modern world – to design and build a car from scratch.
“Holden’s business is changing and we are building a bright future, but it is equally important to recognise and honour our people and our heritage,” said Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard.
“We’re incredibly proud of our manufacturing history and our legacy; I want to thank every Holden employee, and all those people in the supply chain, for their personal contribution to our industry and our company.”
Both Holden and Ford are set to maintain a core of engineering staff and their proving ground facilities at Lang Lang and You Yangs respectively.
Both companies are also committed to importing a wider range of new vehicles from overseas markets.
Today’s closures aren’t the final ones for the Australian industry – Holden will shutter the Adelaide plant at the end of 2017, while Toyota will follow suit at its Altona, Victoria plant around the same time.