Ford will slash 15.5% of its Australian manufacturing workforce by July, due to a downturn in large car sales.
The 240 job cuts will come primarily from the companyï¿½™s Broadmeadows manufacturing plant, and is the biggest loss since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, when Ford slashed 800 jobs.
The news comes in the same week as Ford unveiled its new-look Territory and the specifications for the upcoming dedicated-gas Falcon LPI, due mid-year.
After a big post-GFC sales push, Falcon sales have again slumped, down 39% year-to-date, including just 1157 vehicles sold in January, one of the worst figures in the nameplateâ€™s history.
Traditional arch rival, the Holden Commodore, has outsold Falcon by more than two to one so far this year. While the relaunch of a dedicated-gas Falcon is expected to improve sales, the much-hyped four-cylinder Falcon EcoBoost was expected late this year, but is now delayed until early 2012.
Ford has history when it comes to altering and abandoning its on-record decisions. In 2008, the company granted its Geelong engine plant a reprieve, after previously announcing it would wind-up manufacture of its 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine in Australia by 2010. Ford also retracted its call to build the Focus small hatch and sedan at Broadmeadows, stating that the numbers didnâ€™t add up.
While the addition of an economical V6 diesel in Territory is expected to boost production (the mid-sized SUV is down 8.6% YTD), Ford Australia Public Affairs Director, Sinead McAlary, says that the job cuts are required to ensure a solid future for Ford in Australia.
â€œWe've taken a close look at where our business needs to be so we maintain production in line with market demand and also maintain our profitability going forward," she said.
"Although it is a difficult decision, it is the right decision for the business." Ford will first offer a round of voluntary redundancies, before negotiating the remaining workforce cuts during the next three months.
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