Do Or Die For Australia's Auto Industry

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

A struggling domestic auto industry long past its glory days of big rear-drive sedans is at an existential cross-roads. An upcoming election may decide the fate of thousands of jobs and decades of motoring history. Sound familiar? The madness of America’s election is over, but the same scenario is playing out in Australia.

Australia’s auto industry has had a rough year of government bailouts, plant layoffs, declining sales of domestic cars and supplier implosions. And it’s not going to get any easier. Holden boss Mike Deveraux bluntly said

“I believe 2013 will be a year that Australia decides whether it wants to have an auto industry or not,”

Cars like the Mazda3 and Toyota Hilux and at the top of Australia’s sales charts, with traditional favorites like the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon slipping down the ladder. Even vehicles like the Volkswagen Golf are gaining in popularity, and domestic alternatives like the Ford Ranger and Holden Cruze are having a hard time catching up.

Australian cars, despite being coveted by enthusiasts around the world for the V8 engines are rear-drive platforms, were built to appeal to Australian tastes in an era where the market was protected and fuel was cheap. The combination of increased competition and the lack of scale for Holden and Ford’s big sedans (which are only exported to the Middle East and a couple assorted countries) also puts a damper on their financial success. Now that the landscape has changed, consumers are downsizing – and despite Ford’s efforts with the 2.0L Ecoboost Falcon, the big sedans don’t seem to be doing it.

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  • Dimwit Dimwit on Nov 30, 2012

    That Falcon is a nice looking car. All I can think of is "The New Panther". We have a plant in St. Thomas that could build it! :)

  • Mattsterzz Mattsterzz on Nov 30, 2012

    One of the worst things decision was that they cancelled building the Focus in Australia. Luckily; Ford, Holden and toyota build cars in at least one popular segment. If the Ford territory didnt exist, ford would have already bailed out, like Mitsubishi did a few years ago.

  • Pacificpom2 Pacificpom2 on Dec 01, 2012

    You would be hard pressed to find any advertising for the 4 cyl Falcon, which is the bain of Ford. All advertising for all makers is geared towards the "fun" sized smaller models. The larger cars advertised are the suv's, Captiva, Territory, Outlander etc.. Personally I believe that the Falcon/Territory will die and with them the last large car built in Australia. Commodore variants will probaly last until 2016. The australian market is downsizing. The days of a big car for a big land have gone. Now a 4cyl buz box will make the drive between capital cities comfortable. As for the outback, precious little remains of that and even Corollas will do the territory drives. The high dollar, lack of exports, only Holden build a small car (cruze) and toyota doing the camry/aurion/hybrid. Ford is left building the biggest. The Australian car industry is going to disappear. The Australian market is and will change. This will be a game changer for all of Australian industry. Get ready for Carmaggedon Aussie style!

  • Aus_am Aus_am on Dec 01, 2012

    I can't begin to describe how weird it is hearing those noises coming out of a Falcon. I had an XR6 when I was down there in July, and am hoping to get my hands on an Ecoboost Falcon later this month when I get home again.