In the wake of Holden's exit from Australia, its major competitor, Ford, has seized the opportunity to reiterate its commitment to the market, telling the Federal Government it's planning further investment and suggesting it may absorb some of Holden's former staff.
Yesterday, Holden's US parent company, General Motors, announced it would cease selling cars in Australia by 2021, with the closure of its local head office, test track and engineering and design locations planned for mid-year.
The decision is expected to affect around 600 jobs across its Victorian locations.
In response to the news, Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews said she contacted Ford's Australia and New Zealand president and chief executive, Kay Hart, to ensure the company was planning to stick around.
"She indicated very clearly to me that Ford is as committed as ever to Australia and that they continue to invest here," Ms Andrews said, according to the ABC.
"She didn't give a never-ending commitment and I would not expect that from her. I asked that we kept in touch and she's agreed to that."
Ms Andrews added that Ford had indicated to her that it may be able to absorb some of the 600 Holden employees who will be offered separation packages this year, a sentiment echoed by Ms Hart.
"We have such a big design and engineering team here in Australia," Ms Hart told the ABC.
"We are hiring at the moment and I'm sure that there's some great talent in that Holden team.
"So we would definitely be looking, in terms of if that skill set did fit with us."
Ford, which is planning a further $500 million investment in Australia for this year, employs around 2000 engineers, designers, technical and automotive specialists across its four Victorian sites, making it the largest automotive employer in Australia.
"From a Ford Australia standpoint, we have a great model lineup here," Ms Hart said.
"We have one of the top-selling vehicles in the Ford Ranger, that is designed and engineered right here in Australia and doing so well for us.
"We have a great range of products that seem to really resonate with our customers here, which is such an important part for us."
The storied rivalry between Ford and Holden dominated the Australian car market for almost half a century, but both companies made the decision to end their manufacturing operations in Australia in recent years.
At its peak, Holden accounted for one in every two new cars sold in 1958, and led the Australian market for 25 years in a row until 1978, before swapping the lead position with Ford for much of the 1980s.
Shortly after news of Holden's exit broke, Ford tweeted its condolences and thanked Holden for "keeping us on our toes and inspiring us to keep aiming higher".
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