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Ford confirms Geelong engine plant closure

End of the line: Falcon and Territory will both be powered by a more efficient US-built V6 within three years.

Jobs lost as Ford drops local engine in favour of imported V6 from 2010

Ford logo18 Jul 2007

FORD Australia has announced it will close its Geelong engine plant in 2010.

Around 600 workers at the facility will be left without jobs.

GoAuto was first to report the decision to end the production of the 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine and replace it with an imported V6 last week.

Affected workers at the Geelong factory were informed of the decision at lunchtime today.

Ford Australia president Tom Gorman said the move was partly in reaction to falling sales of the Falcon range.

“Our new engine strategy is a direct response to the lower manufacturing levels of locally produced large vehicles,” Mr Gorman said.

“Although we remain committed to our current local vehicle lines – Falcon, Falcon Ute and Territory - it is imperative that we improve our ability to respond to the increasing consumer desire for alternative fuels, improved performance and better fuel economy while spreading the investment required across a broader base of vehicles. Importing the new engine from 2010 will allow us to achieve these goals.”

Ford Australia has confirmed the new engine will be a Duratec V6, produced at one of several facilities in the US, which are expected to build a combined volume of more than one million engines a year by 2011.

Ford Australia’s Geelong plant currently produces around 70,000 engines a year.

The company has hinted that high-performance versions of the V6 engine, which are believed to include a twin-turbocharged unit, will be fitted to the Falcon, while a diesel engine will also be considered.

27 center imageFrom top: Ford Australia president Tom Gorman, current I6 engine and the Duratec 35 V6 (below).

The closure of the six-cylinder engine plant, which has operated since 1926, will be a massive blow to the city of Geelong as Ford is one of the city’s biggest employers along with Shell and Alcoa.

The steel stamping plant at the Geelong Ford facility will continue to make body parts for Falcon and Territory models and it is understood that the product development centre will also continue to be located on the same site.

Ford Australia said it will try to redeploy as many affected staff as possible and said it will work closely with its employees and unions to minimise the impact on the engine plant workers.

Today’s announcement marks the demise of the only existing engine that has been both developed and produced in Australia.

While Holden builds the Alloytec V6 at its new Port Melbourne facility, that engine was designed and developed in Detroit.

The current 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine is available in standard petrol form, while a dedicated LPG version and a potent turbocharged variant producing 270kW and 550Nm are also produced.

Ford Australia’s in-line six-cylinder engine dates back to 1960 with the first Falcon, although the smooth 4.0-litre twin-cam powerplant being produced today is a world away from the 2.4-litre unit that was first used.

Throughout the years, more and more parts of the Ford Australia six-cylinder engine have been sourced from overseas.

Back in 1960, almost all of the engine components were produced or at least machined in Geelong.

Now, only the block, crankshaft, oil-pan and rocker cover are made there.

Ford Australia used today’s announcement to confirm it was also looking at other possibilities to increase production levels at its Campbellfield manufacturing plant.

GoAuto believes the assembly of a new model from imported components is currently being evaluated.

Mr Gorman would not comment on exactly which vehicle Ford Australia planned to build at the plant, but said the company was “working on the next step to build its business”.

“We are currently investigating a number of alternatives that will allow us to return our Campbellfield manufacturing facility to 100 per cent capacity," said Mr Gorman.

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