By on May 23, 2013

2009-2010_Ford_FG_G6_Limited_Edition_sedan_01

A sad day for both Ford and Australia. The Blue Oval has officially announced an end to building cars in Australia, which Ford has done since the 1920s.

Both the Broadmeadows assembly plant and the Geelong engine plant will close in 2016, resulting in a loss of 1200 jobs. Declining sales of the Ford Falcon, and the expense of retooling Geelong to build engines that are complaint with Euro 5 emissions standards. Ford’s One Ford strategy, which seeks to eliminate regional specific models like the Falcon, also hastened the demise of Ford’s Australian manufacturing operations.

A rising Australian dollar has also been identified as a culprit, but Holden and Toyota are expected to continue their manufacturing operations in Australia despite this. Holden has even committed to a new generation of Commodore beyond the yet to be introduced VF – though it may not follow the traditional rear-drive Aussie sedan template, as smaller, more fuel-efficient cars have become popular in Australia.

Either way, Ford’s Australian operations have been on shaky ground for some time. Today is only a confirmation of what many thought was inevitable.

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68 Comments on “Ford Finally Pulls The Plug On Australian Manufacturing...”


  • avatar
    jimmyy

    That Australian Ford in the above picture looks far better than anything Ford sells in the US. We get the cheap suit looking Fusion with EcoBust and MyFordTrash.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Which is the terrible Mondeo here.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      The car looks good but is based on an old platform and very feels that way on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Gordon

        How is it based on an old platform?

        • 0 avatar
          Ooshley

          Current FG Falcon sits on an ever so slight evolution of the AU (c 1998), which will go down in history as the beginning of the end, EA169 platform.

          IIRC the core body structure, glass, doors, etc. are all common. Differences lie in the front and rear ends.

          • 0 avatar
            XYGTHO Phase3

            almost…the BA was an updated version of the AU – same doors, slightly revised front and rear glass, revised roof and new front and rear ends.

            FG was more “new” – doors changed to the normal framed version compared to the “clamshell” type, or whatever they’re calls, changes to front and rear track, wheelbase etc…

            it is a damn good car, particularly with the I6-turbo. it’s a shame that in this market, it’s not enough to build a car for just one market. it deserved to do better, but combined with a changing market and Ford Australia’s woeful marketing it had no chance.

            it’s a sad day for Australian manufacturing.

          • 0 avatar
            TonyJZX

            the telltale sign is the rear door openings which havent changed much and will be familar to anyone whos ever gotta a lift in a taxicab or a cop car (!)

            its easy to bump your head

            also I challenge the myth that its a ‘dated car to drive’

            would you rather some milk toast piece of rubbish like any fwd korean car or a camry?

            the six with the ZF automatic is a fine car to drive

            hell, even the ecoboost 4 is fine

            it is a good chassis with strong driveline options

            however that doesnt sell to the overall crowd (obviously)

          • 0 avatar
            outback_ute

            You recall incorrectly, the core body structure, glass, doors were all changed for the FG – you must be thinking of the BA-BF. The rear door opening was enlarged to the detriment of swoopy/’fast’ styling specifically to address entry/egress issues plus the doors open a lot further now, approx 90deg. There are some minor carry-over floor pan pressings but all the structural stuff is new.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      I’d disagree (Exhibit 1: Fusion). Besides, this Falcon itself isn’t too exciting. Erase the grille and headlights. Install the Lexus ES grille and headlights, and most people won’t be able to tell this thing from an ES.

    • 0 avatar
      StaysCrunchy

      Something must be wrong with my computer, because the car in the picture at the top of my page is the blandest of beigey McBlandmobiles. I’m not saying its unattractive, but to me it looks like what a Chinese startup car company might come up with if they were trying to clone a current-gen Passat.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    This thread is a spillover from the “Currency Manipulation” one. Either way it is not good for Ford and the people of Geelong where the builder is based.

  • avatar

    Ford has been outshone by Asian Manufactures, it was only time for this to happen, if you make crappy vehicles, this was bound to happen!

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Asians are making inroads in the US and Australia.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Really? I’d agree with this statement if it were 1990 but Ford and to a lesser extent GM and Chrysler have the Asians on the back foot right now. The American auto factories can scarcely keep up with demand.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Outside of pickups the Asians have a considerable impact in the US market. Considering the fact that Ford,GM and Chrysler are local companies,for the Asian brands to totally dominate would be paramount to total capitulation.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          You’re referring to Asian mfgs or the taste of Asian peoples in autos?

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Asian manufacturers

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thx for the clarifications and I tend to agree with your thoughts on Asian mfgs having strong influence. I would argue though of the Big Three, only Chrysler is still a regional mfg. Ford has always had a strong European presence, and GM has a serious presence in Korea, China, Brazil and minor operations in other regions of the world. Companies like Toyota may have bigger global operations, but the two of major American mfgs are present and growing internationally.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Ford has been shrinking globally it is trying to make that up by getting operations up and running in China and India(with an Australian designed car, the Figo) . Bit late in the day as the “Asian Troubles” have just begun, Chinese manufacturing has just stalled.

        • 0 avatar
          azmtbkr81

          Asian companies have had and will continue to have a considerable impact but the reality is that their cars, not to mention trucks, are no longer vastly superior to those of their American rivals.

          In many instances the top selling Asian models (Camry, Corolla, Civic) fall short of their American competition.

          Mazda and possibly Hyundai are the only Asian companies doing anything interesting right now, the rest are relying primarily on past reputation to sell cars.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Perhaps the people of Australia will be the fortunate consumers of union built Fusion … provided to you by Ford who scored a near last place finish in the Consumer Reports brand report card. Obama, former Geithner, and Bernanke, you must be proud … your big money printing policy resulted in exchange rate moves that put Australians out of work. A win for the UAW.

  • avatar

    DOn’T WORRY.

    STREET RACING TECHNOLOGY will pick up where you left off (failed).

    MOPAR or NO CAR.

  • avatar
    big al

    “It’s the last of the v-8 Intercepters…..” Sorry couldn’t help meself:)

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Sorry to hear about it. Its a shame to see skilled and good paying jobs disappear anywhere. Regular folks are always the ones who pay for the decisions of the insulated ones.

  • avatar
    DownEaster

    Too band for couldn’t use the Falcon for the basis of a new Mustang and a new US RWD Falcon built in the US. Could have sold a lot and this would have been highly adaptable to many uses such as a luxury car or even a SUV. One car for the world will not always work. We need to have cars that are unique and fir to local conditions. Toyota builds different cars for the US, Europe, and Asia in some car lines. Now the US Car makers are going towards world platforms in a big way. Things need to be adaptable around the world.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      The Falcon platform is too old and unrefined for even a Mustang. Ford investigated using the Falcon platform for the current generation Mustang but decided against it.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        False, there is nothing wrong with the Falcon platform it performs as well a the Holden VE now VF. The Holden VF is now rebadged as the Chevrolet SS in the US. The problem is he straight six engine there is NO Straight six replacements in the US. The 5Litre V8 is a modified version of the Coyote.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Too band for couldn’t use the Falcon for the basis of a new Mustang and a new US RWD Falcon built in the US.

      Yes, because a Mustang that weighs more than a Camaro and is based on a last generation chassis is a “good” thing.

      I don’t care how good the Falcon is, its completely the wrong car for Mustang (unless people really want a Challenger sized Mustang).

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    The Aussie currency is extremely high these days – this was only a matter of time.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Bummer. The Falcon has always been on my list of “someday” unobtanium. They had such cool engine options that weren’t just copypasta from the US market. The BOSS 4V NA 5.4L, the I6 Turbo, the 5.0L supercharged. So damn cool.

    And FPV Ute with a manual trans would be incredible.

    • 0 avatar
      Pinzgauer

      The Boss has a 5.0

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Before that it was a 5.4L 4V N/A motor. An engine we never saw aside from the early Navigator Intech engine which doesn’t even really compare.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          Except for the very limited run of about 300 or so model year 2000 Cobra R Mustangs, they all used 5.4L 4V N/A motors albeit with better cylinder heads.

          Unfortunately Ford really didn’t have another domestic car that could fit (probably from a manufacturing stand point) the massive 5.4 DOHC V8. The panther cars were hard pressed to fit the 4.6 DHOC V8 in the Marauder.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            There is enough clearance in the Panther for the 32v 5.4 in a Panther granted it would need a different intake that was used in the Navigator. The 32v 4.6 fits in the Marauder just fine with a fair amount of room around it.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Not to slam Australia (because I do like the GM Australia models), but neither this and that SUV in the next article look all that alluring to me. They both look outdated and disproportionate. The side of this model, in particular, looks like an E60 gone wrong. I’m not sure how exciting the powertrains were, but I’m not partial to large displacement engines, or manual transmissions, or RWD. And while we’re at it, I don’t find CUVs to be “soul-sucking wuss machines” either.

    Let the insults begin.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Seems they are staying the in V8 Supercar series: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/107586 I guess that makes sense if Ford continues to sell cars down under despite not building them there. Overall its a bummer as the Aussie Fords were unique and interesting, or maybe it was just because they were forbidden fruit.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I’m under the impression that Australia’s economy is booming, which is helping to drive their strong currency. While its relative strength is exaggerated by badly run economies’ efforts to print their way to temporary illusory health, Australia has some reasonable fundamentals. The people who lose these jobs will have every opportunity to work in thriving industries rather than wallowing in post-industrial decline American style, or becoming perpetual wards of the state and their former employers, like in some European nations. Maybe their good prospects are even related to the underlying reasons why unprofitable operations can end there, instead of dragging down the entire economy and misallocating resources, like here.

    • 0 avatar
      outback_ute

      Yes they can all sell cappuccinos to each other…

      The economy is doing ok but a long way from ‘booming’. The mining sector has distorted the overall picture, well until the crash at least when that slowed down a lot too. Manufacturing across the board is moving offshore along with jobs in all sorts of areas, eg financial.

      It is not just the exchange rate or pay rates either, the cost of doing business in terms of taxes and regulatory headaches that is having a big impact. Things are not bad but there are a lot of businesses that are only just hanging on and only just keeping their heads above water without properly investing in their future.

  • avatar
    niky

    Don’t see what American financial policy has to do with the Falcon being unsellable in Pan-Pacific markets around Australia… the Falcon has NEVER sold outside Australia. There was never any market that the formula made sense in except Australia and the United States, and it never made sense for Ford of Australia to send the car over there.

    GM went to the trouble of Americanizing the Commodore, and they only got to sell the higher-end V8s. Not enough volume to make it a sound business plan… especially not for Ford, who would rather sell more Mustangs, instead.

    The Falcon and Commodore are anomalies. Mass market rear-wheel drive sedans in a global market dominated by more fuel efficient, more space efficient, more modern front-wheel drive competitors. Unless Ford could commit to moving the Falcon upmarket, the question of the line dying out was always a matter of “when” rather than “if”.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Niky,
      Ford never tried to export the Falcon, although it was before the US designed AU model literally level pegging in some cases with the Holden Commodore which for 11 yrs was(stopped in 2010) the best selling vehicle in Australia.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    What thriving industries? Australia is just a big mine for China.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/100713240

    http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/23/business/ford-australia-staff/index.html

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    The only other market for the Falcon and Commodore was the middle east oil states who bought a lot of them . They did not need to meet a lot of the safety requirements required for other countries.

    However nowadays with the Aussie $ at it’s current level even that was not financially viable. They sold less than 20,000 Falcons and Utes worldwide including Australia last year.

    When you consider Ford US cancelled the US Ranger when they were at 50,000 units the Falcon was always on borrowed time.

    Having driven one, can’t say it was any better than a panther which has a big fan club here. I am not one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      That is false they meet European safety regs as does the “Vauxhall” VXR which was exported by Holden to the UK. Problem was Ford did not push for exports or include the Falcon in he global supply chain. What we have got from European and US Ford did not sell or is selling poorly.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Let us hope that Falcon’s demise will leave some breathing room to Holden Commodore.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    “…because the car in the picture at the top of my page is the blandest of beigey McBlandmobiles…”

    Why the Falcon would flop if ‘brought here’. Ford isn’t an entertainment company for those who want to “see it here” but not actaully buy. Gear heads want old looking performance cars or [actual restored ones], and upper income car nuts want Euro, Euro, Euro names.

    Imagine the complaints about the prices. “I ain’t paying no $40 K for a Ford that look like a Toyota!” Also, here, Falcon means economy compact, not ‘muscle car’. And again, gear heads would say ‘too many doors!’

  • avatar
    patrick-bateman

    Okay, okay, In defense of the Falcon, and to rebuff a lot of the ignorant comments about this car.

    That photo is seriously rubbish, and was lazily ripped from Wikipedia. Do a search on the XR series falcons, and you can see that with the right spec, they are an attractive vehicle.

    In terms of saying it is really old car, if you claim it to be a development of the EA Falcon, which some people do because of the under bonnet packaging, yep it is old. Not one piece of it is transferable to an EA, but yes the EA was introduced in 1988, and signed off in 1985. Still a youngster compared to the Panther.

    In terms of the person who drove a Panther and a Falcon and thought the driving experience similar, I’m amazed. The Falcon is light years ahead of a Panther to drive. It should be. It is a monocoque construction, has a sophisticated Independent Rear Suspension, has a ZF 6 speed auto, and a choice of 4cylinder turbo, inline 6 cylinder, 6 cylinder turbo, V8, and V8 supercharged engines. Driving experience, handling etc, is comparable to Commodore/G8, but different. The ecoboost 4, is the best balanced of the lot, and is a really sweet thing to drive.

    The Mustang would have been lucky to have the Falcon under-pinnings as a base. If anything, it was too refined and sophisticated to be a Mustang. Some rubbish about how a Mustang has to have a live rear axle to be a Mustang.

    In terms of safety, it was the first locally produced 5 star ANCAP (roughly equivalent euro NCAP) car, and incredibly did it with the base model, which at that time didn’t have curtain airbags as standard, and got the bonus 2 points for the pole test. At that time the base VE Commodore was 4 star rated.

    In terms of a business case, if it had been LHD, it would have additionally had application in the Middle East and South America, just like Commodore/G8.

    RIP Falcon ….

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Australians probably aren’t ignorant of Falcon realities, and they have no interest in buying the things. All this sophistication talk is rich. European big Fords had independent rear suspensions from 1966. That isn’t a typo. I’d have thought that at least the XF Falcon would have had it, looking like a knockoff of the Granada MKII. Nope. BTW, there is little special about a rear suspension that is built to work with a chassis modified from a solid axle set up. Wasn’t true for the Triumph TR4, wasn’t true for the old Mustang Cobra. Surely engines have been exciting since back in the days of the Gt-Ho? Nah. Rule changed meant that homologation specials weren’t needed for the racing series, so Falcon engines were as lame as malaise-era Detroit stuff for decades. Car and Driver tested the turbo-6 Falcon a few years ago, trying to make their readers feel some sort of sense of loss for not having them. The performance was strong, other than that its observed fuel economy was right down with Bentleys and Bugattis. It wasn’t fast or special enough to justify that.

      RIP Falcon? They still make the indifferent things. Buy one if you’re so broken up.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        “Car and Driver tested the turbo-6 Falcon a few years ago, trying to make their readers feel some sort of sense of loss for not having them. ”

        Very good write up by Car and Driver at the time and they lamented the absolute crud that US Ford drivers had to put up with.
        http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/ford-falcon-xr6-turbo-specialty-file

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Fortunately, there have been better alternatives to Fords here since at least 1924. The XR6 was pretty quick by 2004 standards, but 12 mpg was cartoonishly bad even when gas was a buck a gallon. Was the 5.4 liter V8 as gluttonous in real world use? The price was out of line with its desirability too.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @CJinSD
            “Was the 5.4 liter V8 as gluttonous in real world use?”

            Sure was, it was a whole lot worse that is why Turbo 6 well and truly outsold it and had far better mileage.
            iI would love to know what YOUR BETTER FORDS were?

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        “BTW, there is little special about a rear suspension that is built to work with a chassis modified from a solid axle set up. Wasn’t true for the Triumph TR4, wasn’t true for the old Mustang Cobra.”

        That was true of the AU IRS – a double wishbone layout, nothing wrong with that. But the rear of the bodyshell was completely re-engineered for the BA sedan (no live axle option) with straight rear chassis members and a big gain in strength.

        Re the XR6T fuel consumption – 12mpg is is roughly 19.5L/100, and you would have to work quite hard to get that on a public road, 18-20mpg would be a more realistic figure (note the quoted city figure) with 30mpg possible on the highway. How much street time did the C&D guys see versus the time spent on the strip and skidpan?

  • avatar
    patrick-bateman

    My comment was directed at ignorant people such as yourself.

    To compare the IRS in Falcon to the rudimentary IRS of the Mk4 Zephyr is pointless. People were making Panther vs Falcon comparisons, so I was comparing the relative sophistication between the 2. People were saying Falcon platform would not be sophisticated enough for Mustang. Wrong.

    In terms of falcon engines being the same as Malaise era fords, shows how little you know about the inline 6 development in Australia. 250 2V, crossflow, alloy head, EFI, didn’t see any of these feature on the US 200.

    When you talk about the XF Falcon being a knock-off of the MK III Granada, I think you are out by about 5 years out either way. You of course meant XD Falcon vs Mk II Granada, or possibly EA Falcon versus MK III. Buy hey you know it all. Anything else you want to be proved wrong on ?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The XF and XD Falcon both look like they’re based on the Granada MK2, but neither have the underpinnings to match the European market Ford. The big 6 was making a thrilling 126 hp after improvements during the XD years. Yippee. In ’83, the output went up to 149 hp, the same year you could get a Mustang with 175 hp. There’s more to the world than developments of 1960 economy engines. I don’t feel particularly proven wrong on anything. In fact, I’m beginning to question what your level of expertise is. By all indications, the Falcon is still available. Why don’t you buy one instead of griping about the loss of something that’s still available for the hundreds of people that care?

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @CJinSD

        “There’s more to the world than developments of 1960 economy engines. I don’t feel particularly proven wrong on anything. In fact, I’m beginning to question what your level of expertise is. By all indications, the FALCON IS AVAILABLE.”
        I do not know if you are a Ford NA apologist, but last FPV Turbo 6 had a power output of 410hp and 420lbs ft of torque at 1900rpm. The basic measurements of the Barra engine are the same as the original Falcon, that is about it.
        The IRS on the Falcon makes it a very nice tourer. The Granda is a generation behind in refinement.

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        The Falcon engine was heavily aimed at fuel economy and torque rather than power in those eras, redline at 4000rpm from memory – and it made the same torque as the Mustang despite significantly smaller capacity.

        That has persisted too – a couple of years ago there was a test of 1000km around Bathurst where the Falcon used 10% less fuel than the new Commodore 3.0 DI despite official figures that suggested the margin should have gone the other way.

        • 0 avatar
          patrick-bateman

          I found the historical power comparisons that CJinSD made were laughable, comparing the power of a 5 litre V8 to that of a 4.1 6.

          In 1984 in ADR spec, the 4.1 put out 120KW, and the 5.0 Windsor 127KW. A little embarrassing that those extra cylinders and capacity could only generate 3% more power, especially given the validity of your point that Falcon engine was tuned for fuel economy and torque !

  • avatar
    patrick-bateman

    @CJinSD

    Pal, I have forgotten more about cars than you know.

    I’m also not stuck in a time warp reference MKII Granadas, which were in fact warmed over Mk 4 Zephyrs, and talking about them merits of semi trailing arm independent rear suspensions, which are even more irrelevant and dated than the Falcon engine. I’ll clue you in, it is 2013, and not 1983.

    You do know there have been 3 generations of Falcon, since the XD/XF series you seem to use as your frame of reference.

    I’m sad the Falcon is going, I’m sadder that twits like you troll the internet proclaiming all your dated knowledge and prejudice. Have you even driven a current Falcon ?


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