by Daniel DeGasperi

Holden managing director Mike Devereux has responded to this morning’s announcement that Ford will close its Australian manufacturing operations, saying that he “truthfully believe[s] that not only can auto making in this country survive, but it can also thrive”.

“The announcement by Ford today is a reminder of just how tough it is for manufacturers in Australia, even the most committed, like Holden, which is bringing out the most technologically advanced car ever made in Australia,” Devereux began.

“Despite Ford’s announcement to end local manufacturing, we believe the industry can survive in Australia and has already adjusted in large part given Ford’s relatively low production volumes.”

Yet Devereux reiterated that clear government policy remains key to the auto industry’s survival.

“The industry needs swift action to make Australia’s automotive policy settings clear, consistent and globally competitive as quickly as possible,” he told CarAdvice.

“There is no question that the economic conditions facing the entire country are a little different than they were two years ago.

“The current government and whatever is the next government, we need to make sure we have globally competitive policy … consistent and clear policy over time.”

Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Mike Devereux

Asked whether the Ford closure will affect Holden’s long term future, Devereux said he is committed to the plan to build two new global architectures in the South Australian plant from 2017 until 2022.

“We have a pretty solid plan … we will need to work very closely with the opposition and the government to make sure Australia’s policy settings are competitive globally.

“We have conversations every week with both sides of the equation [who both] understand how critical the auto industry is to the country.

“The new Commodore is a car that is a class above and will change minds. It plays a critical role in Holden’s long-term future in Australia and it is expected that Commodore will continue to be one of the top 10 selling cars in the country.”

Devereux asserts that Holden has strong links with their suppliers, although he conceded that many supply parts for Ford, Holden and Toyota.

“There’s a different story for every supplier. Some of them have more exposure to us, or to Ford, or to Toyota, some supply all three.

“For those parts makers that are 100 per cent Ford, this will obviously impact on them, but we have a very tight relationship through a process called supplier council … to make a really world-class supply chain.”

Mike Devereux

Journalists crowded around a Holden VF Commodore, with Devereux in the front seat, listening via the car’s Bluetooth connection to the announcement that Ford will close its manufacturing operations in Australia from October 2016.

The announcement was made at 11am, during the thick of the VF Commodore drive – which is embargoed until 12:01am May 30.

Asked whether the closure announcement was timed to coincide with the Holden launch, Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano insisted that wasn’t the case.

“The decision [to close the plant] was taken last night, so today was the day we announced it to workers and now to you,” responded Graziano.

  • BigJ

    VF is the auto industry saviour Australia needs

    • Sumpguard

      Let’s hope so.

    • Will

      Max is just holding out for more tax-payer donations so that he may alleviate dept. to the US. Feds. As US. treasury is slowing the printing of money in context of GM. dept, Max has to hold out with a hope that the Commodore will not take on the mantel of orphan too soon.

    • Phil

      Toyota are doing ok exporting 70 percent of their Aussie Camry production. The VF isn’t a four wheeled Jesus, and we shouldn’t expect it to be.

      • Dan

        Toyota are “doing ok’? Phil, even Toyota stated that they aren’t making much profits out of exporting Camry&Aurion.

    • guest

      Holden is pretty agile and smart – they can survive. But some temporary tariffs in the time of high dollar might also be in order too. Unless we also start artificially setting the value of our currency very low as a lot of other countries are doing.

      New Commodore on the other hand is a very, very nice car at a nice price too.

      Ford, as much as I hate to criticise them couldn’t export cars and even worse, whenever Ford Australia had a positive announcement, various insiders from the parent company chimed in with negative talk at possibly the worst time, and elements of the media latched onto this and talked down Ford.

      • Rocket

        Holden is very agile and smart. Yes, they extracted more money from the Government than Ford and Toyota combined.

      • BK

        Ford has a different idea to what Holden wants to do with there cars. Still there are more Fords in the world then there are Holdens. No loss to Ford here. Just smarter thinking.

  • LeStori

    When I worked in the Auto industry, GMH was always open to new ideas. Ford on the other hand wanted Cheap. Come up with a new part better than an existing part but for the same price then no go. If it was cheaper version of the same part with the same problems then Ford were interested.
    I am not surprised that of the two American makers Ford was the first to throiw in the proverbial towel.

    • Tony Abbotts No1 Fan

      What a load of BS, statements made with absolutely no evidence or facts. I previously worked in the AV-television industry, but that doesn’t make me an expert on the TV networks.

      As for throwing in the towel, you may care to remind yourself, that if it wasn’t for the Obama Govt paying out all of GM’s debts, so it could start again without any ongoing debt, I seriously doubt if Holden would be here either.

      • JoeR_AUS

        While what you wrote about GM and Holden is true, what the real problem in the US was that Honda and Nissan factories in the US could produce a 12k vehicle that GM after benefits to its unionised workers would cost 13.5k. The GFC and chapter 11 was the catalyst to break the unions. Also GM paid back its loan to the government.

      • heckler

        Lestori is correct in what he is saying although I also found that Holden would go out of their way for cheap. Even dumping local suppliers and importing container loads of components to save 5 cents and not factoring shipping cost.

        • Noel

          So you’re saying the Holden execs would agree import components to save 5 cents each but are so stupid they forgot there would be shipping costs, I call BS to that however, if this is the actually case Holden will be gone soon too.

  • Norm

    “Asked whether the closure announcement was timed to coincide with the Holden launch, Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano insisted that wasn’t the case.”

    The gravitas of this moment was clearly lost on this journalist. You’d think the occasion was worthy of better standards than that?

  • Doctor

    I think Falcon sales will tank even further, perhaps giving Holden a boost for the new Commodore. Toyota seem to think it can survive on exports and, with Ford out of the way, maybe Holden can too – even with limited exports in the medium term.

    • Rocket

      Ford sells about 800 Falcons a month, so even if they sell 0 Falcons the boost in Commodore sales would be neglible in the scheme of things. Holden supporters jumping on the Falcons grave should be woried about what is the future of a RWD V8 Commdore after the VF?

      • Bondie

        That is so true..

  • Bondie

    Holden will only last to 2020..

    • Autoholic

      I think of Ford as the Ansett and Holden as the QANTAS. Even the corporate colours are the same. Holden will be hold’n on for quite some time me thinks.

      • Andy Whitby

        Hopefully, but I feel it will be barely Holden as Qantas is. Qantas was haemorrhaging cash and that’s what has forced it’s restructure, lets just hope Holden has restructured and bought Cruze online in time.

    • Knockers abound

      What crystal ball do you have that we mortals do not have? I, I see another knocker in the woodpile.

  • Andy Whitby

    So the VF is literally make or brake, how ever the market has changed dramatically and no manufacturer can put all their eggs in one basket so to speak. During it’s peak the Commodore sold 100 thousand cars per year and commanded over 10% of the market, now the top selling car Mazda 3 is just hitting 40 thousand per year which is less then 5% of the market and it is struggling to keep that tittle.

  • Cedar

    Ford have consistently produced an inferior product to their competitors and now blame poor sales for the decision to shut shop. Doh! you dont have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out. I drive a 2010 Ford which has since developed a humming sound from the power steering. Reason for this “all fords have a noisy power steering” as told to me by the ford agent. The noisy power steering has been a common problem for the past umpteen models I’m told. Now that I have this information at hand does anyone think I’ll be racing out to purchase a new ford that most likely will inherit the same problematic power steering in 3 or 4 years time – go figure. Holden on the other hand have continued to improve – albeit slowly. But even they wont survive unless they can produce economical cars that are reasonably large in size soon. I’m referring to cars similar to Mondeo’s, Mazda 6, i45’s etc. Vehicles that can compete in size with the commodore but with a much healthier fuel consumption.

    Back to Ford – am I just a skeptic or does anyone else think that Ford intentionally stopped marketing their vehicles knowing the drop in sales would provide them an opportunity to seek more hand outs from the Federal Govt. Then once the subsidies are paid out they use the exact same excuse of poor sales for closing down their plants. Considering all the money spent on propping up this industry run by Ford why was none of it spent on advertising/marketing? Seems to me we Australians were just “sucked in”.

    Lets hope that he staff from these Ford factories will be able to find employment in and around the area that they reside in.

    • Bondie

      I have driven Fords from EB 620,000, BA 247,000 BF 379,000 to the current modal i have them serviced when needed and have had no problems with them, fuel wise the G model is 100,000 and doing 8.7.

      They are a safe and comfortable car when driving short to long distances,

      Ford was a icon to this country.
      The Two Holdens i drove always had trouble with their gear box and one
      would rattle in the dash.
      When Ford does go, it wont be that long before Holden will follow.
      One of the bosses from Holden has said their is no guarantee that Holden will last.
      Considering the amount of money the government has given Holden…

  • SK

    I love bald guys.

  • Jac

    Hes American, I wouldn’t trust a word he says..

    • Over priced & over here!

      Jac you are right G M dont care look what they did to SAAB!