FORD has admitted it could have handled the timing of its factory closure – scheduled to occur on the same day Australian motorsport kicks off its most iconic Ford versus Holden battle – a little bit better.
An editorial published in the June issue of Wheels called out the carmaker for locking in its closure date of October 7, the same day as the Supercars run their qualifying sessions for the Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama – one of the hottest and most sacred of rivalries in Australian culture.
A report in motoring.com.au said Ford’s decision to shutter the Broadmeadows assembly line on the opening day of the Bathurst contest was “an unavoidable clash, not an intended slight”.
“We will suffer the slings and arrows, we understand that somebody might consider that an affront,” Ford Australia president Graeme Whickman told motoring.com.au.
“There is no ill-feeling behind that decision. It’s not supposed to be inflammatory to Bathurst. What happens if we do it a week later, or two days after? I think there is going to be some energy around that, so it’s a no-win situation,” he said.
“It is not a negative flip of the cap towards our customers or Bathurst at all.”
The editorial in the June issue of Wheels took Ford Australia to task over its choice of dates to end its Australian production.
“Ford’s decision to close Broadmeadows on the Bathurst 1000 weekend shows scant respect for generations of Ford fans, or to the country that supported it for 56 years,” Wheels editor Glenn Butler wrote.
“Coincidence or ignorance? It has to be one of those, because I can’t imagine that Ford Australia deliberately scheduled the closure to coincide with Australia’s Great Race, on which much of Ford’s Australian spirit and reputation has been built.
“Or is there some kind of bizarre deference in shuttering six decades of Australian-made pride on the same day automotive gladiators fight for honour and glory on hallowed tarmac where Ford has won 20 times, all bar two in Australian-made Falcons conceived and created at Broadmeadows.”
Ford is yet to announce how it will mark its final day as an Australian manufacturer, and is yet to announce what will be the last vehicle – a staple Falcon sedan or ute – to roll off the line.
However, it has been confirmed that it won’t be a Ford Territory; the SUV that has done much to build precious scale, and save the Australian carmaking operations by winning the hearts and wallets of a new generation of Ford buyers, and that will live on with the badge in the guise of a fully imported replacement.
Ford’s Geelong-based engine-casting plan will close in September as part of the carmaker’s staged wind-down.