Ford axes local Focus plans

Ford Australia has this morning announced the axing of plans to locally produce a 2011 Ford Focus, based on the Iosis Concept below, for local sale and export.
Ford at Geneva 2009
- shares

By Paul Maric and David Twomey

One of the major issues Ford faced in producing the Focus locally was the cost of local labour in comparison to more low-cost economies in the Asia/Pacific region.

Ford told media this morning that no jobs would be lost as a result of the decision to abandon production of the Focus, which was due to begin in 2011. The car is expected to be built in Asia, instead of Australia and Ford has said it will be imported from an overseas source for sale in Australia.

“Although difficult, this is the right decision for Ford Australia,” said Ford Australia President and CEO Marin Burela.

Mr Burela told CarAdvice that the decision of local manufacture of the Focus has been extensively investigated since he took the reins at Ford earlier this year and the final decision had been made only a week ago.


At the announcement press conference Mr Burela and Innovations and Industry Minister, Senator Kim Carr, both stressed that while Ford had been allocated Federal Government funding by the previous Liberal Government for the Focus project, none of this funding had been drawn by the company.

“Ford Australia has a strong commitment to manufacturing in this country built on ongoing support from employees, customers, dealers, suppliers and government. Our investments today demonstrate not only our commitment to address climate change, but to bringing leading edge technologies to the Australian market.

"Ford is fully committed to working towards fuel economy leadership in every segment in which we compete, across local and imported vehicles. In fact, later this year we will introduce the most fuel-efficient vehicle in Australia when we launch the Fiesta ECOnetic, which will be more economical than hybrids at only 3.7L/100km," said Mr Burela.

The news, which may have shocked some parts of the industry, was greeted by spontaneous applause when Mr Burela announced it to employees earlier today. The Focus build was expecting to break into action closer to the end of this year.

Ford at Geneva 2009

Mr Burela said the most important thing was to make the Focus as price competitive as possible and this could best be done by building it in another country. CarAdvice believes the 2011 Ford Focus, will be built in Europe, the United States and an Asian location, possibly Thailand or China.

He blamed changing global economic conditions for the decision to dump the Focus, saying the company could not make a business case for profitably manufacturing the car at its Melbourne plants.

One of the other breaking stories from Ford Australia is with regard to Territory and Falcon, which will receive four-cylinder petrol engines, liquid injection LPG six-cylinder engines and as exclusively broken by CarAdvice on Tuesday, a 2.7-litre V6 diesel engine from Ford's former partner Land Rover.

CarAdvice will update you as more information comes to hand.