We're here to stay, say Holden and Toyota
Australia's two remaining car makers beyond 2016, Holden and Toyota, say there is still a place for local manufacturing despite Ford's decision to shut its Broadmeadows and Geelong operations. But the future of the vehicle parts chain is less optimistic.
Holden and Toyota gave assurances that Ford's announcement that it is abandoning local manufacturing would not affect them.
Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux reinforced the company's intention to continue producing cars until at least 2022.
"We remain committed to working with both the government and the Coalition on securing the long-term future for Holden in this country," Mr Devereux said. "The fantastic VF Commodore is a key step in that future."
Similarly, Toyota said its commitment in Australia was unwavering, confirming that planning was under way for the production of a new locally-built Camry due in 2017.
"The operating environment is extremely tough at this time but Toyota believes that car manufacturing is an important contributor to the Australian economy," Toyota Australia public affairs manager Glenn Campbell said. "Toyota intends to maintain its operations in Australia."
Ford's announcement has clouded the future of the local parts industry, which supplies Holden, Ford and Toyota with components ranging from windscreens to engine parts.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard tempered Ford's decision by allocating $10 million in funding towards affected local parts suppliers, alongside a further $2 million from the Victorian government.
Leigh Diehm, assistant state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, said that despite the funding, the future of the sector was uncertain. "We have grave concern for the auto components industry," he said.
The local motor industry has withered under toughened trading conditions during the past decade, with sales of locally produced cars falling by nearly 110,000 annually between 2002 and 2012. The demise led to Mitsubishi ending Australian manufacturing operations five years ago.
Ford's production almost halved from 74,613 local cars sold in 2002 to just 34,415 last year.
Toyota did better, with a 9 per cent drop in locally manufactured cars between 2002 and 2012.