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Ford casting plant to keep producing brake rotors

On the brakes: Ford Australia will continue production of brake rotors after Bosch sold its brake business earlier this year.

Sale of global Bosch brakes business has no impact on Ford’s Geelong casting plant

General News logo6 Aug 2012

FORD Australia will continue to produce brake rotors at its Geelong casting plant, despite the sale by Bosch of its global brake business in April.

US private equity group KPS Capital Partners – which bought the Bosch brake components business and renamed it Chassis Brakes International – has decided to retain the arrangement to source rotor castings from Ford.

Bosch Chassis Systems Australia had entered into an arrangement with Ford in 2010 to manufacture brake rotor castings at Geelong, just 12 months after the casting plant had been put up for sale.

Ford Australia public affairs director Sinead Phipps said no sale is “on the radar at the moment”.

Ms Phipps told GoAuto the company has “had no change to our contracts or anything like that … we are continuing to produce rotors, it is definitely all systems go”.

CBI Australia director of sales and marketing Kevin Bergman confirmed the continued parts supply from Ford’s ‘Automotive Manufacturing Operations’ (AMO) in Geelong to CBI’s facility in Lonsdale, South Australia,, where they are machined.

“The creation of Chassis Brakes International through the sale of Bosch Chassis Systems to KPS means that it is business as usual for CBI’s customers and suppliers,” he said.

80 center imageLeft: Former Ford Australia president Marin Burela (left) and senator Kim Carr.

“CBI will continue the established relationship with AMO as per our current supply agreement.”

Bosch stated its intention to restructure its global brake operations in 2009 – well before the deal with Ford Australia was struck – and now focuses its brake components business on brake boosters and control systems.

Robert Bosch Australia declined to comment on the matter.

The deal between Bosch Chassis Systems Australia and Ford Australia signed in April was for the manufacture of up to one million brake rotors at the Geelong casting plant as part of a $20 million investment that was part-funded by the Victorian government.

The casting plant was upgraded to increase production capacity and reduce its environmental impact, with the creation of 50 new jobs – taking the total to 150 – and boosting production levels from 30 per cent to almost full capacity.

GoAuto understands that under the terms of the contract Ford would continue to supply brake rotor castings for three years but this has not been confirmed.

“We have an ongoing contract with (CBI) at this stage,” said Ms Phipps. “There is no change to that.”

However, in the face of declining Falcon sales, the introduction of an imported EcoBoost four-cylinder engine for the large sedan and the fact that 72 per cent of Territory customers opt for the imported diesel engine are no doubt putting pressure on the casting plant, which produces engine blocks for the venerable straight-six.

Ms Phipps said this has been taken into account as part of Ford Australia’s production slowdown – and subsequent 440 job cuts – announced last month.

“That is all packaged into that, so we have the right number of employees down there to manage the number of engines produced.”

She said there has been no change to Ford Australia’s position that it is possible to update the Falcon and Territory’s straight-six petrol engine to meet the Euro 5 emissions standard – which will become mandatory in Australia in 2016 – but that the changes will require a lot of human and financial capital.

“We are looking at what that means in the post-2016 timeframe,” said Ms Phipps.

The upgrade to Ford’s casting plant included several environmental improvements, including a daily 5100kWh energy consumption decrease by reducing furnace idle times, increasing the use of recycled rainwater to 77,000 litres per week, increasing the use of recycled shredded metal from 32 per cent to 70 per cent, and eliminating sand sent to landfill to zero by selling the surplus to cement manufacturers.

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