Going Global, Ford Faces Uncertainty Down Under

Cammy Corrigan
by Cammy Corrigan
going global ford faces uncertainty down under

Despite his genial, affable manner, Alan Mulally is a businessman and, by all accounts, a businessman not to be crossed with. One story goes, when he first started with Ford, he let them know, in the clearest possible terms, “Everybody says you can’t make money off small cars,” he said. “Well, you’d better damn well figure out how to make money, because that’s where the world is going.” Long protected from the brutal rationalisation of the global market, Australia might be about to get a taste of the man’s darker side as he attempts to drag Ford’s Australian ops into the 21st Century.

The Australian
reports that the future of Ford’s Melbourne factory in Australia is undecided. The Ford Falcon’s current model will finish in five years’ time and there’s no cash on the horizon for retooling (unsurprisingly, considering its weak sales start). “We’re looking at a variety of things at the moment. What we build in Australia will evolve over the next 18 months to two years.” said Ford Australia Chief Executive, Marin Burela.

Alan “I’m Steve Jobs, mark 2.0” Mulally still hasn’t passed judgement on whether Ford will continue manufacture in the Land Down Under. The only thing he has confirmed was that developing a new Falcon, just for the Australian market, was no longer an option. “People who make one vehicle for one country — a different vehicle — those days are gone because you can’t compete with the global companies,” Mr Mulally said. “Around the world now, the things that are driving every purchase decision are quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and the best value.” Seems like Mr Mulally is taking this “One Ford” policy very seriously.

There were plans to build the next Focus in Australia to replace the Falcon, but those plans have since been scrapped and Alan Mulally said there was no chance that decision would be reversed. Could there be a more sure sign that Ford do not wish to continue manufacture in Australia? Still, Mr Mulally didn’t want to alienate the Australian market so he trotted out the usual management speak in a situation like this, “Australia is a very important market for us and we’ve worked hard to be competitive,” he said. “No matter what, we’re going to serve the Australian market.” Which is great, but doesn’t help clarify the future of the Melbourne plant. In defence of Mr Mulally, Ford Australia built 55,000 cars last year, which is a small amount. Couple that with the fact that the United States and Australia have a free trade agreement between them, then suddenly, it’s easy to see where Alan Mulally is coming from.

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  • Mtymsi Mtymsi on Jan 12, 2010

    There are enough worldwide variations of the V8 RWD platform for Ford to justify the expense a developing a new one. As mentioned, 55k vehicles while not a large output is a sufficient output to justify an assembly plant. Between all the worldwide applications a V8 RWD platform could be used for and the 55k production I think Ford will continue to build Australian V8 RWD cars. Although a RWD V8 platform isn't global it is still volume wise a justifiable investment for Ford.

  • TonyJZX TonyJZX on Jan 12, 2010

    The Australian Government also gives money to Toyota. And they also used to give money to Mitsubishi but that wasn't enough. They too dissolved local production just like Nissan before them. There's gonna come a time where govt. money is just not enough and we're talking in the $15o mil. range here... not the billions the US gets. I personally think both Ford and Holden are safe. For the next 5-10yrs at least. However past then... it's inevitable. This is another scare rumour based on the words of one man... who really doesn't know what's happening in the next 6 months... 18 months... etc. We are dissecting his words to a degree that is probably corrupting his intent... if there ever was such an intent in the first place.

  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.
  • Wjtinfwb Always liked these MN12 cars and the subsequent Lincoln variant. But Ford, apparently strapped for resources or cash, introduced these half-baked. Very sophisticated chassis and styling, let down but antiquated old pushrod engines and cheap interiors. The 4.6L Modular V8 helped a bit, no faster than the 5.0 but extremely smooth and quiet. The interior came next, nicer wrap-around dash, airbags instead of the mouse belts and refined exterior styling. The Supercharged 3.8L V6 was potent, but kind of crude and had an appetite for head gaskets early on. Most were bolted to the AOD automatic, a sturdy but slow shifting gearbox made much better with electronic controls in the later days. Nice cars that in the right color, evoked the 6 series BMW, at least the Thunderbird did. Could have been great cars and maybe should have been a swoopy CLS style sedan. Pretty hard to find a decent one these days.
  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?