"The Australian car market has fundamentally and permanently changed," said Ford Australia President Mr Tom Gorman.
Ford says the move is primarily an attempt to not only meet emissions ratings but also give the company the flexibility to potentially incorporate future alternative fuel strategies, such as diesel technology.
Ford also blames the diminishing demand for large cars and the corresponding increase in popularity of smaller, imported vehicles (VFACTS figures show a drop in market share of 16.7 per cent in the lat 9 years.
"Although we remain committed to our current local vehicle lines – Falcon, Falcon Ute and Territory, it is imperative that we improve our ability to respond to the increasing consumer desire for alternative fuels, improved performance, and better fuel economy while spreading the investment required across a broader base of vehicles. Importing the new engine from 2010 will allow us to achieve these goals." Mr Gorman added.
The decision to ditch the I6 engine will mean Ford will discontinue its Australian I6 engine operations in Geelong come 2010. Ford says redeployment opportunities will be maximised wherever possible and the company will work closely with its employees and unions to minimise the impact on the 600 people affected by the decision.
Despite the news, construction continues at the company's new Research & Development Centre, ($1.8 billion investment program), and is due for completion later this year. Everything will also remain unchanged at the Ford's test facilities at Lara along with usual operations at the company's stamping plant and Ford Discovery Centre.
Ford has announced the company's remaining 1400 employees in Geelong and 3000 in Campbellfield will not be directly impacted by the decision.
"We look forward to working with our employees to ensure we can deliver on the next step in our process to continue building our business here in Australia." Mr Gorman said.
The new engine will come from high volume US engine facilities that are expecting engine production to hit nearly one million per year by 2011. Ford Australia currently only produces 70,000 engines each year.
Ford have also confirmed a slight change of plans for its Campbellfield manufacturing plant with moves to help increase productivity and capacity utilisation.
"We are currently investigating a number of alternatives that will allow us to return our Campbellfield manufacturing facility to 100 per cent capacity," said Mr Gorman.
2010 will see the end of one of Australia's most loved engines, the inline six engine will undoubtedly receive a worthy farewell in due time.