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.”
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.”
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.