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Last 7 Days

by George Skentzos

After making 600 workers redundant as a result of closing down the Geelong plant, the future looked bleak for Ford Australia. However only a few days later speculation had been aroused that – not unlike GM – Ford would rely on its Australian arm to produce the new global platform. Well the first results of these speculations have arisen today with Ford announcing that they will manufacture the Ford Focus locally in Australia by 2011.

Currently manufactured internationally in countries ranging from Germany to the Philippines to China, the small-hatch will be the only current locally manufactured small car on the market. Continuing the Australian firsts, it will also be most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle produced in Australia, with the current manual diesel model offering fuel economy levels of 5.6 litres/100 km and CO2 emission levels of 148g/km. Both petrol and diesel Focus variants will be manufactured in Australia.

In the wake of the Geelong plant closure, Ford Australia is preparing for an annual production of 40,000 Focus vehicles, which will add approximately 300 new jobs across Ford’s operations, returning the Campbellfield manufacturing assembly plant to full capacity utilisation. In addition, the company’s Stamping Plant in Geelong will stamp a significant number of panels for the new vehicle.

Beginning in 2011, the locally made Focus will be sold in Australia as well as exported to regional markets, including New Zealand and South Africa. Significant additional export markets will be announced closer to the due date.

Rising fuel costs and changing consumer lifestyles have created a dramatic shift in customer buying preferences with small cars accounting for 21.7 per cent of all new cars sold in Australia year-to-date, up from 15.4 per cent in 1998. By manufacturing the European designed and engineered Focus in Australia, Ford will be able to enhance the vehicle’s key product attributes by enabling further consideration of Australian-specific customer demands.

“With the support of the Federal Government and Victorian State Government, Ford Australia will be the first local car manufacturer to respond to these changing market dynamics in this manner. We look forward to offering Australians their first locally produced small car in more than a decade.”

Ford Australia President, Mr Tom Gorman.