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Published: Sat, October 08, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

After 91 years, Ford's Australian vehicle production ends

After 91 years, Ford's Australian vehicle production ends

As the shutters sadly close on Ford Australia's Falcon and Territory production line in northern Melbourne today, the company has reminded us that it still plans to invest more than any other car-maker into local research and development. Around 3.4 million Falcons have been built since production started in 1960.

For 91 years, Australia has been making the Ford Falcon XR6 at its Broadmeadows plant in Melbourne.

Post local manufacturing Ford will have the largest automotive R&D operation in Australia with more than 2,000 employees including 1,100 designers and engineers.

Some will retire, others will seek other opportunities but all are expected to meet at the factory to say one last goodbye.

The South Australian facility will remain open until the end of 2017, when both Holden and Toyota will shutter their remaining auto lines, bringing to a close Australia's ability - a rare one in the modern world - to design and build a vehicle from scratch. I vividly remember reading an article in Wheels magazine about an electric blue Ford Falcon XR6 - the car's sports variant - cruising the streets of the motor city, Detroit, to stunned onlookers.

600 manufacturing jobs will go as a result of the closure, and Ford is not alone in its departure.

Workers in the Ford factory at Geelong in 1951.

After 91 years, Ford's Australian vehicle production ends
After 91 years, Ford's Australian vehicle production ends

He said the company's legacy would live on despite the end of manufacturing in Australia. 120 jobs will stay temporarily for the plant's decommissioning.

By that, Ford Australia means that the design, engineering, dealership, and servicing arms will continue operations.

Union representative Dave Smith said: "It's a shame for Australia because I think we lose so much when we no longer have vehicle manufacturing".

The workers are entitled to relatively generous redundancy packages, retraining and job placement schemes with the average length of service about 20 years.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the impact on second and third tier suppliers will be even more profound.

Victorian Industry Minister Wade Noonan says the government is providing over $46 million in help for the state's auto workers, businesses and communities hit hardest.

Come 2018, there will be no more Australian-made cars.

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