Ford Motor Company has announced it is to close its two Australian manufacturing plants by October 2016, ending production of cars including the iconic Falcon.
Ford Australia Chief Executive Bob Graziano said the company will shut its engine plant in Geelong and its assembly plant in Broadmeadows, both in the state of Victoria, amid rising manufacturing costs and sliding sales. The closure will mean the loss of 1,200 direct jobs, as well as affecting industries that supply parts and support.
The closure means the Falcon, iconic in Australian motor racing since the 1960’s, winning 15 Australian Touring Car Championship titles, will be rendered ineligible for competition. V8 Supercars technical rules state a model must be commercially available in Australia to be approved for competition.
“My sense is that the Falcon name is inextricably linked to Australia and to being produced here,” said Graziano.
“We will retire that name when we retire the vehicle.”
Ford Australia have said that it will still import its cars into Australia, but have yet to make any decisions on their motorsport involvement.
“We haven’t taken any decision. We’ll work with our motorsport teams and work our way through the next three years,” said Graziano.
Ford’s participation in the series has dwindled to just six entries across two teams in 2013, compared to 15 Holden Commodores.
In a statement released today, V8 Supercars says it still expects Ford to be involved with Australia’s premier racing category at least until 2016, and potentially beyond, despite Ford’s decision to take manufacturing overseas.
“Ford has an enormously proud and successful racing heritage globally as well as here in Australia with the Falcon, the Mustang, Sierra and Cortina,” said V8 Supercars.
“We expect that to continue for at least the next three years and beyond.
“The very purpose of Car of the Future is to adapt to the market conditions. It is incredibly successful with Nissan and Mercedes-AMG on the grid, and more to come. It is the future of the sport.”