Im­port thrive

The num­ber of cars built in Aus­tralia con­tin­ues to shrink — here are the coun­tries more than mak­ing up for it

Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS - CHRIS RI­LEY chris.ri­

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.”

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