Commentary by Bob Aldons - Northstar Motor GroupLong before I was a Chrysler Jeep Dodge, Isuzu Ute and Volkswagen dealer and way before Mitsubishi and Suzuki, my passion was with Ford through my employment with Torque Ford. For over 22 years, I sold the blue oval cars and trucks and I loved them unconditionally. Offers, and very attractive ones from Holden dealerships to move over to the Lion, were met with contempt. Once you're a Ford person, you could never sell Holden. And it's this reason that the demise of Ford in Australia is heart wrenching. From the coal face, I could tell you horror stories of the attitude of Ford personnel to the brand. But let's not kick someone when they're down, or should we?
Let's. Ford's demise didn't start in the last few years as consumers downsized from large cars to small, medium and SUV. It started long before that with ignorant or arrogant decisions by Ford USA and Ford Australia senior management - that's what I think anyway. A tip for automotive management - listen to your dealers - listen to the people at the coal face - listen to the people that have a passion for the brand.
It's all well and good to have a university degree - nowadays if you don't have one, you'll not get a position in any global automotive company. But it doesn't take a degree to know and feel what's happening in the market. Consultation with those who have a vested interest in the success of the company is an essential ingredient to that success. Listen carefully and those charged with the responsibility will become aware that it's not all about the board or the senior managers - it's about the people that drive the cars, the people who sell the cars and also the people who work on the cars.
Vale Ford Falcon - you'll soon be gone but never forgotten Today's announcement could easily be the beginning of the end for Ford Australia.
The Falcon will die in 2016.
The death notice was posted today with news of the 440 job losses at Ford Australia and the continued decline in production at the company's Broadmeadows factory.
The family-sized Ford has been on a slippery slope for nearly a decade, and the Holden Commodore has also been going badly backwards this year as customers have switched in ever-increasing numbers to imported SUVs. Things would probably have been even worse for Ford and its workforce if the Territory SUV was not contributing 50 per cent of sales for the troubled carmaker, which is being hit worst by a another 25 per cent downturn in large-car sales this year. No-one at Ford is making any promises beyond the end of 2016, following a planned update to the current Falcon in 2014 that's partly funded by more than $30 million from the Federal government.
That says everything about the Falcon and, most likely, Ford's extremely shaky future as a local manufacturer. But the trouble runs deeper, as the closure of Ford's car making business would almost certainly have knock-on effects at Holden and Toyota. The other two local brands rely on a web of Australian companies that supply components for their Commodore, Cruze, Camry and Aurion. Those suppliers need a critical mass for local production and, more importantly, the ongoing investment in new technology and components.
Without Ford Australia as a local producer, their future would also be shaky and - in a major knock-on - that could easily undermine the plans of Holden and Toyota. And it's important to remember that the Commodore is only locked in place until the end of 2016, although Holden - thanks to the Cruze, and the showrooms success of the locally-made compact car - is committed to a much longer future as a manufacturer.
So today's announcement could easily be the beginning of the end for Ford Australia - and perhaps even worse for the Australian motor industry.