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Ford closes its doors after more than 90 years in Australia

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Car manufacturer Ford will officially stop producing cars around lunchtime today, as the last Australian-made Ford rolls off the Broadmeadows assembly line.

It marks the end of 90 years of Australian-produced Fords, as the automaker becomes the first of the big three to close its doors. 600 manufacturing workers will lose their jobs when the last car, reportedly a blue XR6 Falcon, makes its way out of the factory. The Geelong assembly plant is also closing today.

Another 120 staff will reportedly continue working temporarily to decommission the plant.

The Herald Sun reports that Ford will keep the last Falcon sedan and Territory SUV as museum pieces, added to the last Falcon ute made in July. The last customer cars will be auctioned for charity.

An estimated 3.8 million Falcons were sold over the past 56 years.

Holden and Toyota will close up shop next year, but the former will cease producing its medium-sized Cruze today. Holden’s Elizabeth production line on the outskirts of Adelaide will continue to make the Commodore for another year according to The Herald Sun.

Toyota’s Altona Camry plant will be the last to close, in late 2017.

It’s definitely an end of an era – but also a sign of the future. It simply became too costly for the automakers to continue manufacturing cars in Australia – even with hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding. (The Productivity Commission estimated that taxpayers paid $30 billion in subsidies to the local car industry between 1997 and 2012).

It didn’t help that Australians stopped wanting big sedans and switched to smaller, more fuel-efficient smaller cars and SUVs. Nor that Australia has more than 60 brands with countless models all competing for the consumer’s dollar.

Ford’s departure is also unlikely to have much of an impact on the likes of automotive parts supplier Bapcor Ltd (ASX: BAP) ex-Burson Auto Parts, Super Retail Group Ltd’s (ASX: SUL) Super Cheap Auto or 4WD accessories manufacturer ARB Corporation Ltd (ASX: ARB).

Foolish takeaway

Don’t worry too much if you still own a Ford, Holden or Toyota. Manufacturers like Ford have managed to retain a number of their suppliers to continue making spare parts for their vehicles for years to come.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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