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Last Ford Falcon Ute exits Broadmeadows

End of an era: This XR6 Ute is destined for a national tour and a home in a museum, as the last ever locally made version to be produced.

Ford Australia’s exit from car-making takes a sombre turn as last Ute is built

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Ford logo29 Jul 2016

By TIM ROBSON

FORD Australia has drawn the shutters down on 54 years of Falcon Ute production today, as it ramps up its Australian vehicle manufacturing closure in 70 days’ time.

The final Ute down the Broadmeadows line, in Melbourne’s outer north, was a white XR6.

Today’s shutdown of Ute production is part of the company’s protracted timeline to exit local manufacture of the Falcon, Falcon Ute and Territory. All three cars are built on the same line.

Two Ford Australia plants – the engine facility at Geelong and the Falcon/Territory manufacturing line at Broadmeadows – will be permanently shuttered, after the company announced in 2013 that it was pulling out of local production.

More than 850 workers will lose their jobs, with 350 positions already culled.

Ford Australia communications and public affairs director Wes Sherwood told GoAuto today that the final ute – a white XR6 – would not be sold, nor auctioned for charity.

“It will be held in our historical vehicle fleet along with the final Falcon and final Territory, which will both be built on October 7,” he said.

“We will have them for our private celebration on October 7, and have them at a loyalist event shortly after that, and then we’ll make them available for museums and car shows and the like.” Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman said recently that the final day would not be a media free-for-all, but a day of “dignity and respect” for the workers in the plants who will lose their jobs.

Two images of ute bodies were circulated on social media this week, purporting to be the final two Utes to travel down the line.

“We haven’t chased down those images, but the vehicle wasn’t built until today,” confirmed Mr Sherwood, who added that it only takes “a couple of hours” to build a Ute. “It only happened today.” There are no plans to foreshorten production of the Falcon or Territory, as the company continues with its previously laid out plans to wind down local production.

“Because of the complexity of closing down a plant, there are various milestones to hit,” said Mr Sherwood. “In September we’ll start shutting down parts of the plant that supply parts to the final assembly plant (ahead of October’s closure).” Mr Whickman dismissed the rumours that the plant would shut early because of falling demand for the Falcon at the launch of the Focus RS in early July.

“Regardless of the drop in the volumes, we said we were going to go for a period of time and we set ourselves out to do that,” he said.

“We knew there were some pros and cons to that, but we certainly want to do it in the proper way and we will honour those commitments.” The Ute runs down the same line as the Falcon and Territory.

Ford Australia is widely credited with inventing the coupe utility bodystyle in the 1930s, with the first Falcon-branded ute – an XK – offered in 1961.

A total of 439,742 Utes were built over the vehicle's long history at the Broadmeadows plant but the grand total of Falcon Utes is 467,690 when production from the old Eagle Farm, Queensland facility is factored in.

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