American automaker Ford (NYSE:F) is closing its manufacturing facilities in Australia, bringing to an end more than 90 years of its car-making business on the island country.
The final six-cylinder Ford Falcon rolled off the company’s assembly line at its plant in the Broadmeadows suburb of Melbourne, Victoria on Friday. That brought down the curtains on Ford’s automobile manufacturing business of 91 years in Australia.
Ford becomes the first of three automakers that have revealed plans to end operations in a country where the local automobile industry appears to be on the path to demise. The sector has been negatively impacted by the decision of the center-right coalition government to curtail subsidies to the sector.
General Motors’ Holden and Toyota are two other companies planning to pull the plug on their manufacturing business in Australia next year.
Ford has confirmed that some 600 manufacturing workers would lose their jobs when it closes plants at Broadmeadows and Geelong, both of which are in Victoria. Ford maintains its Australian headquarters in that state.
The plant sites are to be put up for sale.
“This is not just about Ford, it’s about the automotive industry and it’s estimated that for every Ford worker there’s between about four and seven workers out there in the component industries and support industries,” Australian Manufacturing Workers Union vehicle division secretary Dave Smith said.
Smith lamented the loss to the economy when automotive industry is no more.
Shift in buyer preferences has not been favorable to automakers such as Ford and Holden. Motorists are showing greater interest in small cars and sport utility vehicles from overseas over big passenger vehicles made in Australia which these companies are known for.
The looming end to car manufacturing in Australia has led to heated debate on the effect this could have on the local economy. Some have suggested the need for government to do more to support the sector.
The last car to roll off the Broadmeadows plant was a Ford Falcon XR6, which Ford Australia Chief Executive Graeme Whickman said was an honor to be in attendance to see. While noting that it was a difficult day seeing the plant close, the local head of the company said its legacy would continue in the country despite an end to manufacturing.
Australia’s manufacturing industry has experienced a significant decline over the years. This has impacted total employment in the sector, with this declining from 13.4 percent in 2005 to about 7.8 percent in 2015.
The last of Ford’s saleable vehicles are to be auctioned. Proceeds from the sale will be distributed to schools in the Broadmeadows and Geelong area. Those cars that cannot be sold would be put on display in museums and similar places across the country for people to “come and see and enjoy.”
The Ford Falcon had been an icon on Australian roads for over five decades. The vehicle now looks to become a collector’s item for Ford (NYSE:F) fans in the country.
The closure of the Australian manufacturing facilities comes at a time the famous car company has also announced to end operations in Japan and Indonesia over profitability concerns.