With the end in sight for Ford manufacturing in Australia, the company is seeing some of the weakest sales results in years. Once a staple for the Blue Oval, the Ford Falcon only found its way into 381 new driveways in January.
Things aren’t looking good for the entire Australian industry, either. Though aggregate March 2015 sales grew 8 percent to 105,054 units from 97,267 seen in March 2014, the industry dove from 174,000 sales for the full year 2014, from 210,000 in 2013.
“That’s nearly 21 percent. Everyone’s concerned about the lack of volume in the industry,’’ said Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers chief executive Richard Reilly.
These weak aggregate sales have Australian officials concerned that Ford will end its manufacturing operations in the country earlier than before. The Blue OVal has committed to Aussie production through the end of 2016. However, there’s a deep concern Ford will use the poor results to pull the plug earlier than expected and close plants.
Concerns are so strong, according to some Aussie publications, that the union responsible for managing Ford’s employees — the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union — is refusing to comment on the situation, instead turning questions to Ford itself. The public is disheartened to see their manufacturing base come to an end. There’s also the perception that, “Ford hasn’t kept up with what the public want.”
“People are going for the small SUVs and that kind of thing. They’re not buying the old Ford wagon,” Cameron Harnett, who purchased a Ford Falcon GT to mark the end of an era, told The Australian.
For the record, we would wholeheartedly disagree with Harnett: Ford is actually very strong when it comes to SUVs and crossovers of all kind, having the broadest SUV and CUV lineup in the industry, starting with the subcompact EcoSport all the way to the compact Kuga/Escape, and from the midsize Edge and Everest to the full-size Explorer. But we digress, as it is still a shame to see these staples of the Australian auto industry disappear. Cars like the Falcon are held in high regard and close to the heart, much like the Camaro and Mustang are in the U.S. With lack-luster sales, we do applaud Ford for sending the Falcon out with a bang by reviving the XR8 trim for one last go around.
With that, we will be watching closely as the days march forward to the 2016 closing date for Ford manufacturing in Australia. Ford Australia’s long-time rival, Holden, isn’t far behind in ceasing production in the country. The GM-owned division will build vehicles in Australia until 2017.