Mike Stevens | Jul 17, 2012

Note: article updated to reflect official Ford announcement and details.

Ford Australia has confirmed it will cut up to 440 jobs, or about 15 percent of its workforce, with plans to slash production from November forward from 209 vehicles per day, to 148.

Most of the losses will come from manufacturing operations at the carmaker's Geelong and Broadmeadows plants.

The reduced production and job losses are in response to the continuing slide in large car sales, Ford Australia President Bob Graziano said.

While sales of the locally-manufactured Territory remain strong (1800 in June), the Falcon continues its slide, with year-to-date sales down 24.6 percent compared to 2011.

Production will shift to a more profitable mix, focused largely on the Territory.

"Implementing this structural change is essential to ensure the longer-term health of the business," Mr Graziano said in a statement today.

"We understand that, unfortunately, the impact on our employees will be significant, but implementing this structural change is essential to ensure the longer-term health of the business, which is important for our employees, our suppliers and the communities in which we operate."

Graziano added that workers who take up the redundancy package will be offered training and counselling.

Today's announcement comes barely two months after a seven-day shutdown for the Broadmeadows and Geelong plants when parts supplier CMI ran into difficulties. It also follows the announcement of a $290 million loss in May.

Ford's market share in Australia has slipped to 7.9 percent year-to-date, compared to 9.1 percent at the same time last year.

Problems with parts supplier CMI have also had an effect on Territory and Falcon production.

Ford is not alone in its local production woes: Toyota in April cut 10 percent of its Altona workforce, blaming market conditions, and Holden confirmed in February that it would shed up to 100 temporary and casual contractors.

Ford secured a $103 million investment in local production and upgrades earlier this year, including $34 million from the Federal Government and an undisclosed amount from the Victorian Government.

The investment was expected to secure local production until at least 2016. For now, Ford remains committed to that goal, and new locally-produced models are scheduled to hit the market in 2014.

"We are committed to the Ford brand and continuing to produce vehicles in Australia," Mr Graziano said.


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