Friday, May 5, 2006
Australian Prime Minister John Howard and federal industry minister Ian MacDonald today announced that the federal government would be providing Ford Australia with a AU$52.5 million (US$40.4 million) “financial assistance package”. Additional assistance will also be provided by the Victorian state government.
According to Mr Howard, the injection will secure Ford’s manufacturing operations in Australia “for the long term”.
From the package, AU$40 million will be used for the design and manufacture of Ford’s next model Falcon and Territory vehicles, which will be built in Australia.
Despite being given a major facelift in 2002 and another in 2005, the Falcon’s bodyshell dates back to 1998. The current Falcon will need to serve the company until at least 2007 when the new model is anticipated. In the meantime, it will face stiff competition from the completely new Holden Commodore (the Falcon’s major competitor) which will be released in the second half of this year.
The additional AU$12.5 million will be spent on the development of a light commercial vehicle platform, which will be built overseas and marketed to around 80 countries. Mr Howard said that the light commercial project would involve construction of a research and development centre, which will become the base for R&D projects in the region.
Mr MacFarlane said that the research facility was exciting for Australia and that it would put the Australian automotive in the spotlight.
“The funding has helped Ford Australia secure the largest automotive R&D project ever undertaken in Australia which is equally exciting news for local Ford employees and Australian component producers” he said.
“The project will see Ford Australia become a centre for automotive design and engineering excellence in the Asia Pacific region which will bring spin-off benefits for the broader industry,”
“This opportunity will put both Ford Australia, and the Australian automotive and components sectors on the world map as far as our automotive design and engineering capabilities are concerned.” Mr MacFarlane said.
Mr Howard claims that the projects will create 273 jobs and secure the future of the “iconic” Ford Falcon, which has been built in Australia since 1960.
The financial package is conditional upon Ford Australia giving the Australian automotive component industry an opportunity to supply components for the vehicles produced by the two projects.