Ford closes its Australian factories after more than 90 years of car-making
By Cathy Jacobs
Updated about 2 hours ago
PHOTO: A blue XR6 was the final car to roll off the Broadmeadows assembly line. (Supplied: Ford Australia)
The last Australian-made Ford car has rolled off the assembly line at the company's Broadmeadows plant today, marking the end of an era.
Ford has confirmed 600 manufacturing workers will lose their jobs when the company's plants at Broadmeadows and Geelong shut down today.
Ford is the first of the big three car makers to switch off the factory lights after the demise of the local industry was announced in 2013.
It means the end of the road, too, for the Ford Falcon, a motoring icon embedded in Australian culture for more than half a century.
Sombre day for workers
The final vehicle, a blue XR6, rolled off the assembly line surrounded by Ford staff at a private event at Broadmeadows.
Of the 1,200 redundancies announced in 2013, about half have already left the company or have transitioned into Ford's product development and customer service departments.
Another 120 will stay on temporarily for the plant decommissioning process beyond October.
The vast sites in Geelong and Melbourne's north are slated for sale, but their future use is unknown, as yet.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union secretary Dave Smith said the closure would have a flow-on effect.
"This is not just about Ford, it's about the automotive industry and it's estimated that for every Ford worker there's between about four and seven workers out there in the component industries and support industries," he said.
Industry 'in transition', Ford says
Ford Australia chief executive Graeme Whickman said it was an honour to be in Broadmeadows to watch the last Falcon XR6 come down the line.
He said the company's legacy would live on despite the end of manufacturing in Australia.
"As the industry transitions, we expect to become the country's largest auto employer by 2018," he said.
"We're moving towards innovation and design and we'll have over 1,100 researchers and designers working on some pretty cool ideas."
He said the final few cars would not be for sale and would be put on display.
However, the last saleable cars were due to be auctioned, with proceeds going to schools in Geelong and Broadmeadows.
PHOTO: Ford Australia CEO Graeme Whickman confirmed 600 workers would lose their jobs today. (ABC News)
For the blue-collar workers saying goodbye to their jobs, it was a sombre day, and owners of locally made Falcons will now be driving collector's items.
Ford fan Sam Surace was outside the Broadmeadows factory today with a collection of cars.
"When I was a kid at school I should have been doing homework, but I wasn't I was actually drawing the Ford logo, that's all I kept drawing that little Ford logo," he said.
"So I've been a Ford guy all the way."
Ford fans at Australia's biggest motoring race may also be left feeling like the air has been let out of their tyres.
The last Ford to be made in Australia coincides with qualifying day at the Bathurst 1000, a tribal battleground between Ford and Holden.
Three-time Bathurst winner and five-time Australian Touring Car champion, Dick Johnson, said it would be a day to remember.
"This is one hell of a sad day I can tell you because a lot of my life has gone with the Ford badge all over me," he said.
"To see the last Falcon come off the line, and certainly the manufacturing to cease in this country as far as Ford's concerned, is a real disappointment to me, it really is.
"For today to be qualifying for the Bathurst 1000, and to be the last Falcon to roll of the production line, it's a date we won't forget that's for sure, albeit very sad.
"If I could go out, or our team can go out and win this race, what a fitting end to the era of the Falcon in Australia."
See more of Dick Johnson tonight on End of the Line: The Last Australian Ford at 7:30pm on ABC News 24 and ABC Victoria and South Australia.
Topics: manufacturing, industry, business-economics-and-finance, automotive, unemployment, unions, broadmeadows-3047,geelong-3220, vic, australia
First posted yesterday at 3:18pm
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