23 May 2013 - 00:00
RIP Ford Falcon
CONFIRMED: it's goodnight to the Ford Falcon. One of Australia's most iconic motoring brands this morning announced it will be turning its back on its local plants, closing the doors on both its Broadmeadows and Geelong factories from October 2016.
The numbers, announced at an 11am press conference, read like a script for a horror movie: Ford's Australian operations reported a $600m loss since 2008. Ford dropped $141m in 2012, and a staggering $290m in 2011. Never mind the government cash injections, the business is unsustainable, led largely by the fact that nobody is buying locally built Fords. Sales of the Falcon, for example, fell by a further 36 per cent last year.
The decision means death for the Ford Falcon, along with at least 1200 job losses as the company attempts to stem falling sales and plummeting profits by becoming an import-only brand from 2017 onwards. Ford says there will still be close to 1000 engineers and designers employed in Australia, but for exactly how long remains unclear.
"As you know the Australian automotive industry has been facing challenging conditions for some time. Ford has been a part of the Australian automotive industry for nearly 90 years , and we have continued to successfully transform our business over that time. Today we are transforming our business again," Ford Australia President Bob Graziano told the assembled media.
"Unfortunately, part of this transformation means that we will cease our manufacturing operations in October 2016. As a result, approximately 1200 jobs in our Broadmeadows and Geelong manufacturing plants will become redundant when those sites close. We will look to maximise redeployment wherever we can, but realistically we believe those opportunities will be limited."
While the Falcon's fading popularity, along with the Ford's profit woes, was no secret (the company sold less cars in Australia in 2012 than they did two decades ago, with the ageing Falcon alone shedding more than 60,000 sales per year since its launch) the decision still sent shockwaves through the industry.
But its full ramifications will only truly be felt in the coming months as the V8 Supercars consider a future with no Ford Falcons on the grid, Aussie parts manufacturers consider a future with one less company to sell to, and Australia considers a future without one of its national icons.
The news, which began to unravel at Holden's national media launch for its new VF Commodore yesterday - a coincidence, Ford assures us - was confirmed by the company at 11am this morning.
The Ford Falcon and far-more-successful Territory SUV are both built in the company's soon-to-close Victoria plants.
The decision also spells an end to one of the world's most endearing and enduring arguments, the great Holden versus Ford debate. The question, though, has finally been answered.
The winner is Holden. By default.