Ford Australia revealed it may cease manufacturing operations in the country earlier than announced, citing recent changes in trade protection and weaker demand as reasons behind the possibility.
Last year Ford announced it would end local manufacturing in 2016, but the company’s policy to “continue to match production to demand” may see 300 staff lose their jobs much earlier than anticipated.
Chief executive Bob Graziano told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday the company was still looking to end operations in October 2016, but offered no guarantees that Ford would blindly stick to the set sate.
“If you are looking for a guarantee, there are no guarantees. It is our intent to work to that date. We have seen continued pressure in the large car segment … that’s been going on for over a decade,” he said.
“I know there is a lot of speculation around a hastening of departure. Today is about understanding what we’ve done since we’ve made that announcement for our employees and our supply base, and the number of new products we have coming.”
According to the article on the Financial Review, the company remains committed to launching fresh models of the Falcon and the Territory at the end of this year.
The anticipated exodus in Australia’s car manufacturing sector which will see Ford, General Motors Holden and Toyota Australia close their doors by 2017 has sparked calls that trade protections such as tariffs be dropped.
“If you look at the tariffs that are in place today … this is one of the lowest tariff barriers in the world,” he said.
“I think we need to just get through the next several years of manufacturing here and then I will leave that to the government how they move from there.”
Mr Graciano said there were misconceptions that Ford was exiting the market or that there could be difficulty servicing Ford models.
“I think there is a portion of the population out there that believes Ford may not be here after 2016, which is obviously the wrong perception,” he said.
Victorian Manufacturing Minister David Hodgett said the Government would assist Ford in finding new opportunities for car suppliers overseas.
“Despite its recent announcement to close its production operations by 2016, Ford still expects to be Australia’s largest automotive employer, which is great news for the Victorian economy,” Mr Hodgett said.
“Importantly, Ford is also introducing local suppliers to new business opportunities within the company’s global operations.”