With sales dropping even faster of the Australian Ford Falcon, Ford has let go an additional 212 workers on top of 118 voluntary departures at the Broadmeadows (headquarters, assembly for Falcon, Fairlane, customer service division, training center, research and design) and Geelong (casting, engine, stamping and product engineering) facilities. Another 110 employees were also moved to other jobs in the company. This was 20% of the local work force.
This after Ford received $34M AU in January 2012 in what Prime Minister Julia Gillard said at the time would create 300 jobs. This apparent inconsistency has caused many to question the resolve of the current Government.
Earlier this year Ford teased 2012 Sydney Motor Show attendees with a quick glimpse of a “new” Falcon for the 2014 model year. Whether this is truly an all-new design or simply a “top hat” redesign is unknown, although the lack of product development funds would suggest the latter. In the meantime, with declining sales of the current Falcon, fewer workers are needed.
The Falcon is designed for the right-hand drive Australian market, and very small numbers are exported to New Zealand and South Africa. The car is not designed to meet North American standards and would need a resign and considerable investment for export into our uncertain market. This as Lincoln is reportedly considering reentering the rear-wheel drive market with a new product built on 2015 Mustang mechanicals. Whether there is any intersection in the platforms of these three cars is unknown, but platform sharing is the heart of the “One Ford” methodology. Ford’s (international) 2 liter EcoBoost 4 cylinder and (North American) 5 liter V-8 engines (with a locally built supercharged variant) are used in the Falcon, along with a locally produced 4 liter inline DOHC 6-cylinder that traces its roots back to the North American OHC inline 6 of the early sixties. An effort to replace this with the far more modern 3.5 and 3.7 liter DOHC V-6 engine line was put on hold in order to keep a locally produced engine available, along with jobs for its workers.
Ford has considered replacing the Falcon with a variant of the North American Taurus. The Taurus was actually imported to Australia once before, but sold very poorly. Ford Motor Company’s global design chief J Mays told reporters at the January 2011 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) that a future generation Falcon would likely be based on a future version of the Taurus. Then Ford global product chief Derrick Kuzak also turned his back on two Australian journalists who cornered him for an answer. Alan Mulally was also quizzed, and avoided an answer by saying “We love the Falcon, we have nothing new to address today other than we love serving the Australian customer. We have nothing to report. …I have never met more relentless people than the Australians [media].”
Holden, the Australian subsidiary of GM, is faced with similar declining sales issues but had invested heavily in designing a more modern and flexible platform that is built in both left- and right-hand drive models and can therefore be exported more widely (particularly to the Middle East). The Pontiac G8 was simply a rebadged Holden Commodore [download brochure] and had a brief stay in North America before GM fell into Chapter 11. The upcoming 2014 Chevrolet SS sedan is the same car again, with minor updates along with the next-gen direct-injected V-8. The same Holden chassis is also used for the current Camaro but is due to be replaced with the more modern Alpha chassis in 2016.
From Ford Press:
VICTORIA, Australia, 4 January, 2000 — Why did Hubert French decide on Geelong as the headquarters of Ford in Australia? He reasoned that, because Ford imported chassis parts from Canada, steel and other parts from England and timber from Tasmania and it would need a close port to ship cars and components to all the other States, it would need a deep-water harbour like Corio Bay. Geelong also had excellent road and rail facilities and sufficient land at reasonable cost for future development. Mr. French also concluded that very large population areas should be avoided as “our experience has been that large centres of population should, if possible, be avoided inasmuch as they are generally subject to a considerable amount of labour unrest. Geelong has the advantage of having a reasonably adequate supply of labour and is sufficiently far removed from Melbourne to be practically free of those labour troubles which are frequently evident in that city.” Geelong also had banks, shops, telephone and cable facilities, sewerage, power, light, gas, hospitals, housing, churches, libraries, schools, sporting facilities public gardens, social and sporting clubs, tramways, buses and a Customs Department branch. Finally, Mr. French admitted that “Geelong’s proximity to the wealthy Western District which is well populated and grows the finest wool in Australia, provide a potential market for a vehicle manufacturer right at his door.” # # #