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Ford officially starts its slow Australian exit

Down for the count: From an early 2014 high of 133 vehicles per day, the Ford production line is down to a rate of 83 vehicles, on its way to zero in late 2016.

This week marks a turning point in Ford’s Australian production wind-down

Ford logo11 Jun 2014

FORD’S withdrawal from its Australian car-making business kicks off this week with the first official wind-down of production ahead of the closure of its local manufacturing operation in October 2016.

As of this week the line rate at the car-making plant in Broadmeadows, Victoria drops to 83 vehicles a day – from as high as 133 a day in January – as another round of employees leave the company as part of a voluntary redundancy process that will eventually extend to the car-maker’s 1000-plus blue-collar workforce.

It also reflects the changes to staff and production rates announced by Ford in February, with the first batch of workers leaving in May.

Ford Australia communications and public affairs director Wes Sherwood said while he would not say how many more employees were leaving the car-maker this week – believed to number about 50 – the long-term plan was to shed 300 workers from its Broadmeadows and Geelong plants this year alone as it matched its workforce to the lower production numbers.

All up, more than 1100 jobs will be lost by late 2016.

To the end of May this year, the car-maker had registered 3944 Territory SUVs and 3010 Falcon large sedans according to the official VFACTS data, however these figures do not reflect how many vehicles were actually built in that period.

“We’ll have a line rate of 83 vehicles as of this week,” Mr Sherwood told GoAuto. “The line rate doesn’t reflect the sales numbers because there have been some down days, so at the end of the day the numbers work out.”

Ford has previously included weeks of planned shut-downs in its production schedule this year, artificially inflating the number of vehicles it has averaged per day – a practice that Mr Sherwood said was likely to continue as the car-maker matched production with variable demand.

Next month marks the final chapter for its Ford Performance Vehicles division, which will reduce to just two models – a 351kW-plus GT F sedan and a much more mild Pursuit-badged ute – before the FPV badge is retired later this year.

Australian car-makers are again hurting badly after slumping to a new low in 2013 in terms of market share, falling to a 10.4 percent share of the new-car market compared with 2012’s result.

In the first five months of this year, Ford, Holden and Toyota have yielded another 3 percent market share, with Ford falling by 30 percent and Toyota by 5 percent.

Standing out, though, is Holden’s Commodore, which has buoyed sales to the extent that the car-maker has increased retail share for its locally produced badges by a massive 14 percent, despite sales of the Cruze small car falling almost 30 percent so far this year.

Australia remains the fourth-largest source of cars sold in the first five months of the year, behind Japan, the largest, Thailand and South Korea.

However, it is only a few hundred units ahead of the fifth most popular country of origin, Germany, which is expected to grow in strength as luxury cars become more affordable.

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