Ford will close its Broadmeadows assembly plant and Geelong engine and casting facility for seven days in July as the Falcon large car languishes at its lowest sales levels in history.
“We remain committed to our strategy of matching production to market demand,” Ford Australia’s Sinead Phipps told AAP.
“We have also confirmed that we are looking at a number of alternatives to allow us to manage our production schedule through the rest of this year, including additional down days or the possibility of a down balance [job cuts].”
Less than a year ago in July 2011, Ford cut 240 factory workers from Broadmeadows and Geelong because of dwindling demand for its vehicles, reducing daily production from 260 vehicles to 209 in the process.
Today’s news comes just one month after Ford Australia posted its largest annual loss on record, bleeding $290 million in 2011 in a result that was worse than its loss at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008.
Sales of the Falcon sedan have fallen 25.2 per cent this year to 5415 units. At the current rate, Ford is on track to sell fewer than 15,000 Falcons this year, half what it achieved in 2010.
The Falcon Ute is fairing only slightly better, although with just 2338 units sold this year, it too is 11.4 per cent off last year’s pace.
The Territory is the one shining light for Ford Australia. Sales of the locally made large SUV are up 72.8 per cent this year on the back of strong demand for the diesel model, which belatedly launched in Australia in April 2011.
Ford has sold 5895 Territorys this year, putting it on track to achieve its best full-year sales result since 2007 and remarkably beat the Falcon over a calendar year for the first time ever.
Earlier this year, Ford Australia announced a $103 million investment into the Falcon and Territory, guaranteeing the future of both vehicles until 2016. The future of Ford's local manufacturing operations beyond that point remains under a cloud.