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A Ford Driver’s Personal Reaction To Ford Australia’s Bad News

Sad Falcon

The bomb hit us all on Friday.  Ford Australia is going to stop production altogether in 2016 and is shutting down the engine plant in Geelong and the assembly plant in Broadmeadows.  I’m well aware that there are probably sound financial reasons for this move and is probably something to do with the whole global village thing, but I’m still gutted. I guess many other folk are, too, especially if they (a) were working for Ford Australia and are now out of a job and (b) were proud to drive an Aussie-made Ford.

The axe fell on Mitsubishi in Aussie five years ago. Now Ford is shutting down. How much longer are Holden and Toyota , which still have a manufacturing presence in Australia, going to be able to keep the home fires burning?

I don’t want to get into the whole political blame game thing.  I’m not a political expert or an economist. I’m just a driver.  I’ve been a Ford supporter for years.  I got my driver’s licence in an Aussie-made Ford Falcon  and I currently drive an Aussie-made Ford Fairlane  (and, among other cars, I had an Aussie-made Ford Festiva in between those two).  I liked the idea that I was supporting the team Down Under by choosing to drive a Ford.  I liked the mental picture of the iron coming out of the Aussie mines ultimately ending up in an Aussie car factory and ending up being driven on Aussie roads – kind of like the vehicle equivalent of a farmers’ market and buying locally grown food.  And I also liked the thought that it getting spare parts was a heck of a lot easier with a Ford. In fact, it was a lot easier and quicker to get the spare parts – it took my local mechanic next to no time to get a spare bit on the few times that something needed fixing on the Fords I’ve owned; when I had a Saab 9000, it took three weeks for a replacement part to arrive from Sweden, leaving me walking the kids to preschool in the middle of winter (said Saab was a great car when it was on the road, I have to add).

I suppose I’m not the only person with questions about what is going to happen now.  First of all, what’s going to happen to all the workers and the community in the Geelong area now that an industry that’s been there for the best part of a century is closing down?  And where are all the Fords in the world going to be made now?  Are they going to be produced in some country where the workers get paid a pittance and work excruciatingly long hours in shonky conditions?  What’s the knock-on economic effect going to be on the Australian economy as a whole if we’re not making as many cars locally and a larger chunk of ore is heading overseas in an unprocessed state instead of getting the value-added treatment here?  Did they actually export many of the Fords made here in the first place (well, they sent a few across the ditch to New Zealand, but anywhere else?)?

However, a Reuters article reports that Ford USA is increasing production and is shortening its usual two-week summer shut-down from two weeks to one week to meet demand, as well as creating more jobs. Guess where the spare parts for your Ford might be coming from (I’m just guessing, too – some might be made by local folk (fingers crossed)).

And I have a question for myself: will my past loyalty to the blue oval override my support for local industry, or will I have a long, hard think about whether my next set of wheels should be a Holden?