US carmaker Ford has announced it will have to stop producing vehicles in Australia within three years. The company said its facilities had become too expensive to be profitable any more.
Ford Motor Company said Thursday it would close its two production facilities in Melbourne and Geelong by October 2016, thus ending about nine decades of making cars in Australia. It added the closure would see 1,200 workers laid off.
The firm reported the announcement came as a result of continuously high costs and low volumes on the continent.
"Our costs are double that of Europe and nearly four times that in Asia," Ford Australia President Bob Graziano told reporters in Sydney. "The business case simply did not stack up, leading us to the conclusion that manufacturing is not viable here in the long term."
Ford said the company had been suffering from a stubbornly high Australian dollar, making locally produced cars far more expensive than those produced overseas.
While manufacturing would stop, the carmaker said it would remain in Australia as an importer and dealer, employing some 1,500 people.
The Australian government had spoken to the two other most important local carmakers, Holden and Toyota. It said both companies remained committed to manufacturing in Australia. The auto making sector there employs more than 50,000 people, with another 250,000 jobs in associated industries.
hg/jr (dpa, AFP, AP)