End of an era as Ford builds its last Australian-made car

By Mashable/Shellmith Njagi

Like many teenage boys, I had a brief love affair with cars.

However the Australian-made Ford Falcon — a spacious four-door sedan seen all over suburban streets around the country — was never a vehicle you’d admit to fantasizing about.

Despite being such a common car, it managed to attract the curiosities of those abroad. 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.

There it was, a wholly Australian car designed and manufactured in the city of Geelong, eliciting curiosity from Americans who’d never seen a Ford like that before.

Even employees of the Ford Motor Company, who are headquartered in nearby Dearborn, went up to the car’s window to ask what it was. The Falcon was a car Australia could really be proud of.

It’s the same model, albeit a more recent generation, that is the last Ford car to be built in Australia. For good.

The final Ford Falcon XR6 rolled off the line Friday at around lunchtime, an end of an era for the country’s automotive industry.

Back in 2013, Ford Australia announced it would cease local manufacturing after 56 years of operation in October 2016. It followed years of successive losses for the company and a high Australian dollar slowly dwindling the once-lucrative export market, which included a rejected plan for U.S. police to import Australian made Ford cars.

600 manufacturing jobs will go as a result of the closure, and Ford is not alone in its departure. General Motors owned Holden is set to end local manufacturing at the end of 2017, as will Toyota at the same time.

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

Car manufacturing has long been the backbone of industrial cities like Geelong in Victoria, where Ford’s Australian operations are based, or Elizabeth in South Australia where Holden’s manufacturing plant is located.

It’s a sad demise. Not many Australians could remember a time when the country didn’t make cars.

At Ford, many of these manufacturing jobs have been transitioned into other roles. According to ABC News, around half of those in manufacturing jobs have left the company, or have moved in

product development and customer service departments. 120 jobs will stay temporarily for the plant’s decommissioning.

But it’s likely that many who have spent most of their lives in the automotive industry will struggle to find work, as the rapid closure of such a large industry forces many, once with valuable skills and years of experience in car manufacturing, to adapt to life outside of it quickly.

The final saleable versions of Ford’s Australian made cars will go to auction, with the proceeds going to student robotics programs and local charity the Give Where You Live Foundation.

As for the fate of the absolute final Ford Falcon XR6, it’ll be kept by the company for display at museums and events, and so will the very last Falcon Ute and the Territory four-wheel-drive.

Resigned to history, just like that.

 

  

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