Ford halts local Falcon assembly as demand plunges

Approximately 1,500 workers will be forced to take pay cuts at Ford’s manufacturing facilities in Victoria, with the car-maker announcing it will temporarily shut-down its car manufacturing operations due to lack of demand.

The car manufacturer is closing its Broadmeadows assembly plant and Geelong casting and engine plants for two days per week until the end of March, due to decreasing interest in its Australian-made Falcon and Territory SUV models.

Ford hasn’t revealed how much money it expects to save during the shut-down periods, however the company has admitted the Australian market doesn’t demand enough Ford Falcons and Territorys to warrant a five-day working week at its production facilities.

“We’re simply matching production to market demands,” Ford Falcon director of public relations, Sinead McAlary, told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

Approximately 1,500 production and assembly staff will be affected during the downtime, according to McAlary. 

Affected workers will reportedly receive 50 to 60% of their full-time wage during the duration, along with the opportunity to ‘top up’ their pay packets by taking annual leave days or taking on ‘alternative duties’.

Ford’s McAlary blamed the Australian public’s cooling purchasing habits on January and February’s devastating floods in Queensland and New South Wales.

“Not as many people want to buy cars,” she said.

McAlary insists Ford will continue to produce cars at its Victoria plants for the foreseeable future, claiming the company has “no plans to do otherwise.”

Ford will use the planned downtime to run-out old parts and clear the decks for manufacture of its new Territory model, which features a diesel engine, and will be available for purchase from April. 

The new diesel engine is said to be more fuel-efficient and produce lower emissions than classic LPG models.

The government gave Ford $20 million last April to expand its Geelong casting plant, and boost its design and engineering capacity for the Ford Territory. The expansion created 50 new jobs and secured jobs for 100 workers.

Falling demand for Ford’s classic Falcon comes as bittersweet news for the industry, which last year helped celebrate 50 years of producing the iconic Australian car. 

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Do you think Ford has a long manufacturing future in Australia? Comment below or on Twitter @manmonthly.


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