Following an announcement to shut down manufacturing in Australia by 2016, Ford recently asked the Australian government to subsidize local research and development operations.
For the time being, The Blue Oval plans on keeping its product development center, which employs roughly 1,200 people and is integrated with corresponding R&D centers in the U.S. (Dearborn), Germany, and Britain, a setup that allows the automaker to get work done around the clock. But Ford recently notified the Australian government’s Productivity Commission that is currently performing a review into car manufacturing that the government should extend its funding activities to aid with research and development operations. The nation’s manufacturing assistance program is currently only open to car and parts makers for funding.
In opposition, Australia’s recently-elected prime minister Tony Abbott promised to reduce financial assistance to the automotive industry as whole by A$500 million. His cabinet is currently awaiting the Productivity Commission’s report before finalizing the decision.
Notably, Ford isn’t the only auto manufacturer to announce plans to withdraw production from Australia. General Motors, which is represented in the country by its Holden brand, announced last week that it will shutter local production by 2016, laying off roughly 3,000 employees.
Ford has the largest R&D operation among Australian car makers, investing A$3.2 billion into new projects from 2002 – 2012, according to a Ford spokesperson. The automaker’s request to the Productivity Commission states that complex automotive design work and engineering research will be next to leave Australia, unless it receives public funding.
Notably, Ford has received A$1.1 billion in taxpayer subsidies in the last decade.