SLOWING sales, the decision to exit Australian manufacturing, and the biggest loss in Ford Australia’s history will remain the legacy of US-born Bob Graziano’s almost five-year stewardship.
Here’s how his Australian sojourn panned out:
Oct 2010: Ford announces Graziano, then heading up its China operation, as head of Ford Australia, replacing Australian Marin Burella
Mar 2011: Production cut to three days a week for a month to help clear a backlog of unsold cars
May 2011: Ford Australia posts $25 million profit for the 2011 financial year; industry minister Kim Carr predicts slow Falcon, Territory sales will bounce back with new models
Jul 2011: Ford introduces capped-price servicing scheme to win back customers
Jan 2012: Federal government invests $103 million in next-generation Falcon large car, sparking furore over government support for car industry; Ford regional chief Joe Hinrichs says Australia is too expensive to start an export program
May 2012: Ford Australia posts record $290 million loss; Ford aims at retaking top-three sales spot in Australia; Ford workers return to work after collapse of parts supplier CMI temporarily interrupts production
Jul 2012: Ford announces 440 redundancies and flags 30 percent cut to production, from 209 to 148 vehicles a day
Aug 2012: 100 Ford Territory SUVs ship to Thailand as part of a trial export program, but local tariffs push price tag to $100,000; US parent invests heavily in Broadmeadows-based design centre
Nov 2012: 330 factory workers pushed out the door as Ford holds hopes of keeping workforce stable at 2900
Apr 2013: LHD Territory export program declared too costly to be viable
May 2013: Ford Australia formally announces it will quit manufacturing, posts $141 million loss and flags it won’t return to profitability until after it shuts down local production; Kim Carr says it could have survived longer with aborted Focus production plan
July 2013: Ford regional chief Joe Hinrichs says Australia was too far away from US to make it viable
Aug 2013: Down days introduced due to slowing Falcon, Territory sales; US chief Alan Mulally admits Australian production “had to go”
Jan 2014: Detroit flags Australia will be a drain on profits ahead of 2016 closure
Apr 2014: Ford invests in Lara proving ground as part of Australian engineering focus
Jun 2014: Redundancy axe falls again, culling 200 from manufacturing; Falcon and Territory production cut to 83 vehicles a day, down from 133 in January; Graziano denies rumours slow sales will force early factory closures
Nov 2014: Graziano says he’s not interested in chasing a top-three spot in the Australian market
Dec 2014: Extended capped-price servicing program launched to lure customers, later expands it to include free loan car for customers having vehicles serviced at Ford dealerships; announces plans to release 20 new-generation or refreshed models in Australia by 2020; quits V8 Supercars
Jan 2015: Sales of Ford’s locally made cars falls to a 48-year low
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