2:30pm - Updated with Statement from Ford
Ford Credit will pull the pin on its retail finance division in Australia come February with over 160 staff expected to lose their jobs.
The decision, which comes as the Australian car industry faces its worst sales performance in 30 years, means private (retail) car buyers will no longer be able to seek finance from the company directly.
Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar and Mazda dealerships which use the retail finance will also be affected, while regional dealerships who depend on Ford Credit for retail finance will be hit hard.
We spoke with Ford spokeswoman Meredith Libbey in Detroit a short while ago who provided us with the following statement:
Ford Credit Australia told its employees and dealers that it has made the strategic decision to cease retail financing in the Australian market. To allow dealers time to select new finance providers in Australia, FCA will originate retail business until 28 February 2009. Ford Credit Australia will continue to service and collect on existing accounts as it winds down the current portfolio over an extended period.
This was a difficult, but necessary, decision. Australia has a well developed financial services marketplace and other companies are expected to provide financing for retail customers. Ford Credit Australia finances about 10 percent of Ford retail sales in Australia.
This decision does not affect Ford Motor Company operations in Australia and it does not affect Ford Credit customers, who should continue to make their account payments in their usual manner. Ford Credit is continuing to support existing dealers' wholesale financing arrangements and is studying the federal government's funding vehicle, also for wholesale financing, that was announced last month.
Ford Credit Australia's employees are highly-skilled financial services professionals who have been dedicated to providing outstanding service to dealers and customers throughout the organisation's proud history. Employees will be offered separation payments, outplacement assistance and time away from their duties to interview for other jobs as their positions' end dates near. Some employees will continue with the company for years to service customer accounts; 115 employees will continue beyond 2009.