Cash coup for Ford and Holden
AUSTRALIA’S two heartland car brands, Ford and Holden, have a renewed future thanks to cash and commitments from Canberra and Detroit.
Ford has just won a $103 million lifeline that locks the Falcon and Territory in place until at least 2016, while Holden is closing fast on a deal to cement its manufacturing operation in South Australia through until 2020.
Both companies now join Toyota Australia, which has just switched its Altona factory to an all-new Camry and is spending $350 million on a fresh engine factory, with solid commitments from their head offices to ongoing operations in Australia.
The new deals come after high-level meetings in Detroit this week between the Federal Minister for Industry, Senator Kim Carr, and South Australian premier Jay Weatherill and a range of senior Motown executives up to Ford Motor Company’s CEO Alan Mullaly and the chairman of General Motors, Dan Akerson.
The major focus is development of a fresh co-investment strategy between the Federal government and the carmakers, taking advantage of the $3.4 billion fighting fund included in the Automotive Transformation Scheme as part of the motor industry plan that runs through to the end of the decade. Senator Carr was upbeat when he emerged from the talks, firstly to pledge his support of Holden and to announce the Ford deal, which has been fast-tracked in less than six months.
‘‘We had very, very productive conversations. We are at the table,’’ Senator Carr said.
He confirmed the Ford deal protects the jobs of production line workers at both Broadmeadows and Geelong, despite dismal Falcon sales in 2011 and total output which was down to only 45,000 vehicles, including the Territory SUV and Falcon ute.
Senator Carr also said his priority for Holden was en- suring no job losses at Fishermans Bend, the heart of its engineering and design operation, or at the Adelaide factory that makes the Commodore and compact Cruze.
‘‘We are in the business of fighting for jobs. That’s what this is all about. Fighting for Australian jobs and fighting for partnerships that take us through the rest of this decade,’’ Senator Carr said.
He said the new deals will protect smaller companies that supply components to the major makers, as well as drawing investment from offshore suppliers.
The Ford deal is signed and sealed, while everything points to a Holden contract within six months.