7 Oct 2016

Ford reaches end of road in Australia after 90 years

2:16 pm on 7 October 2016

It is the end of the road for Ford across the Tasman today, with the company halting car production in Australia after 90 years.

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Photo: AFP

The last Australian-made Ford car has rolled off the assembly line at the company's Broadmeadows plant today.

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 also means the end of an era for the Ford Falcon, a motoring icon embedded in Australian culture for more than half a century.

The final vehicle, a blue XR6, rolled off the assembly line surrounded by Ford staff at a private event at Broadmeadows.

Of the 1200 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.

Ford Australia chief executive Graeme Whickman said the company had spent the last three years helping employees and suppliers affected by the plant closures to transition to new opportunities.

"Many people think the auto industry is closing down in Australia but that is not the case at Ford," he said.

"This will include about 1500 highly skilled employees across professions such as engineering and design."

The Everest and the Ranger are designed in Australia, but made overseas.

For the blue-collar workers saying goodbye to their jobs, it will be 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.

"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."

- ABC

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