Ford unveils new VR system, suggests manufacturing could end in 2016

Yesterday Ford suggested it could do away with its manufacturing operations in Australia at the end of 2016, meanwhile displaying its new state-of-the-art virtual reality facility.

Ford Australia’s president Bob Graziano gave the company’s strongest clue yet that manufacturing in Australia was on the way out for the company, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

“We believe you can have research and development without manufacturing,” he said. “It clearly helps to have manufacturing and we're very fortunate in that we have manufacturing, research and development and a stunning test facility.”

His comments have been interpreted as indicating that Ford will give up on car-making when Australian and Victoria government assistance runs out at the end of 2016.

Sales of Ford’s Falcon have been in sharp decline, down 30% this year, while sales in the entire market are up 10%.

Graziano also showed off a new virtual reality system, costing $500,000. The design studio allows a 360-degree view from a “car”, which is actually just a seat in a dark room at the Broadmeadows plant, one of Ford’s three “centres of excellence”, with the others in Cologne and Detroit.

Automotive components makers suggested last month that Ford’s Australian manufacturing operations would end in 2016.