The number of cars built in Australia continues to shrink — here are the countries more than making up for it
A DECADE ago, one in four cars sold in Australia was locally made.
This year, that figure will dwindle to fewer than one in 10 (down from 250,000 in 2005 to fewer than 100,000).
Yet some buyers are still surprised to learn that their Holden or Ford is not built in Australia.
Only the Holden Cruze and Commodore, Ford Falcon and Territory and the Toyota Camry and Aurion are still assembled here. All will disappear as the local industry shuts down over the next couple of years.
By far the largest supplier of cars to Australia is Japan, which delivered about 330,000 vehicles in 2014.
The second largest source was Thailand, which has overtaken South Korea. Last year their respective vehicle deliveries were 227,000 and 130,000.
Australia came in at a humbling fourth with just over 100,000.
Next on the list were Germany with 83,000 and the US with 58,000. Rounding out the top 10 were England, India, Spain and Czech Republic.
All up, we import cars from more than 26 countries, including Argentina, Hungary and Turkey.
Imports from Germany have more than doubled in the past decade.
Volkswagen has grown from just 10,000 sales a year in 2004 to more than 50,000 last year, with the luxury marques also growing strongly.
In the first half of this year, German-made cars were lineball with sales of locally built models.
Not all cars from German brands are made in Germany. Most Mercedes-Benz C-Classes come from South Africa, the AClass is built in Finland and the GLE is US-built.
Audi’s Q3 is made in Spain and the A1 in Belgium. VW’s Jetta and Beetle are made in Mexico and the Touareg in Slovakia.
Most BMW’s off-roaders hail from the US and the 3 Series is manufactured in South Africa.
Free trade agreements, the removal of tariffs (in the early 1980s they were nearly 60 per cent, now the impost is 5 per cent) and low-cost labour in Asia have reshaped Australia’s fleet.
Thailand has been the big mover in the past decade, with deliveries almost tripling from less than 85,000 in 2005 (the advent of the Free Trade Agreement) to almost 230,000 last year.
Ford, Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota build vehicles in Thai factories.
Imports from Japan and South Korea, recent signatories to free-trade agreements, haven’t shown much growth yet.
China is the sleeping giant. The world’s biggest producer of cars exported a little more than 1000 vehicles in the first six months of this year.
Among locals, the Commodore replacement is expected to come from Germany, as is the Astra, which will replace the Cruze as Holden’s small car.
Falcon has effectively been replaced by the European-built Mondeo, while the Territory replacement is expected to come from the US.
The Camry will continue to sell here but will be built in Japan or, more likely, Thailand.
A Toyota spokesman says: “That decision will probably be made within the next couple of years.”