It is the end of an era, and the first to fall of local manufacturers, but Ford Australia spokesman Wes Sherwood yesterday confirmed October 7, 2016, as the day local production of the Falcon and Territory will cease.
This will bring to an end 56 continuous years of production at the Broadmeadows plant by Ford Australia – those two products, orphans in the global Ford product stable, and now as much victims of the company’s “One Ford” product plans, as of declining sales in the Australian market.
It wasn’t unexpected; October 2016 had always been ringed on the calendar. Mr Sherwood said that employees were informed of the decision yesterday as part of a product planning meeting.
Ford Australia, now “transitioning to a full vehicle importer”, has 850 remaining employees engaged in manufacture between its Broadmeadows and Geelong facilities. The redundancy and redeployment process, which began with the announcement of Ford’s intent to shut its local operation in May 2013, is well advanced, most, according to Ford finding “new work opportunities”.
Ford Australia has invested heavily in assisting its manufacturing workforce into other employment outside the company, or redeployment within it. It has also had access to the Federal Government’s $100million package, announced to assist with redundancies and retraining in the sector.
Ford will retain its engineering and design facility at Broadmeadows which employs more than 1000 skilled staff, and is a key part of Ford’s global engineering and design effort - one of only four such centres in its global operation.
There would however appear to be some ‘wriggle-room’ in the announcement.
As former boss Bob Graziano previously said when asked if Ford factories would remain open to the October 2016 deadline, "We are committed to getting there if we can. But I cannot predict what would happen externally that may prevent us from doing that.”
We have not been able to confirm that if Falcon and Territory sales tank entirely, or if there are other problems, whether that date of the 7th of October next year is subject to change.
Mr Sherwood told GoAuto that ‘the decision was based on a “solid year of production” with no down days scheduled’.
What is known is that there will be at least one or more ‘commemorative’ special vehicles developed in the next 12 months to retain interest in the brand, and to hold sales at a ‘factory-sustaining’ level.
This will quite likely include an additional XR8 variant (the XR8 is currently exceeding sales expectations) and a hi-po turbo XR6 special.
Currently, Falcon is limping along at 729 sales (ute and sedan) a month; Territory is doing just marginally better at 784 a month.
Ford’s global decommissioning team will take control of the manufacturing facilities once production ceases, to prepare the properties in Geelong and Broadmeadows for sale.
The 44-acre site at Broadmeadows may be worth a pretty penny.