The future for Ford Australia is relatively positive and there would be no further job cuts for the Blue Oval, according to the company’s new president, Marin Burela
– David Twomey
An upbeat Mr Burela told CarAdvice during a telephone media conference that following a widespread program of divestiture, locally and globally, the company was in a much better shape than its main rivals.
Two weeks after he took over the top job at the beginning of October Mr Burela called for an additional 450 redundancies, in addition to the 350 announced in August.
Mr Burela said that Ford Australia was “holding its own” in a challenging situation despite posting an $87.2 million loss in the 2007 financial year.
He admitted the company’s future was inextricably linked to the success or failure of its US parent, which last week posted a $US2.98 billion third-quarter loss.
“I have no plans for further job cuts,” Mr Burela said, adding, “We’ve taken tough decisions, ones that I certainly didn’t take lightly. We’ve worked very, very closely with our unions and our people, the process that we’ve gone through has we’re very, very much linked and tuned into our parent company,” he said.
Answering a question about the short-term support Ford Australia had received from its US parent Mr Burela said: “ While we’re very much linked and tuned into our parent company, our focus here in Australia is to ensure that we’re generating the right level of cash to in fact be able to sustain ourselves and the reality is it’s been challenging and tough, but we’re holding our own.”
He said the company had also been fortunate that when new Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mullaly took up his position in Detroit he had shown foresight in securing capital and selling off units such as Aston Martin, Land Rover and Jaguar, which had the effect of making Ford stronger than its rivals.
“Allan Mullaly saw the clouds on the horizon and one of the very first things he did was to go to the markets and secured a level of funding that, when one looks back now, you would say was an absolute stroke of genius. The divestiture that took place once again under his leadership was also a stroke of genius.
“I think, although things are challenging and very tough, we’re holding our own.”
Mr Burela said the Australian Government’s $6.2 billion automotive industry package was not a “bailout” but a blueprint for sustainability for Australian carmakers, which encouraging them to invest in the latest technology.
“My view is there is plenty there for us to work with, we’ve just got to work at it. This package, quite frankly, isn’t a bailout of the industry because what the government has done is said ‘we’ll invest in you if you invest in yourself’.
“The onus is now back on us as manufacturers to say how do our plans fit into that and do we need to go out there and do some rethinking about the things we thought before versus the things we need to do for the future?
“What we need to do is now dissect the plan in terms of its detail to look at number one where is the market going and how does the plan support the market growth over time and how do we then ensure that we are investing in technologies and products that actually fit the market and that also plays to the strengths of the plan.”
Mr Burela also said that Ford’s plan to manufacture the next-generation Focus small car in Australia from 2011 would be revisited to ensure it attracted the maximum leverage from the Government.
“To be honest I don’t know where the qualification would be, but what we would need to do is go back and look at the plan and say are there things that we should add to the C-car plan that will then help make the C-car plan even more viable than what we believed it to be at the time we made the decision to build it in Australia. So can we compliment the current plan that we have,” he said.