Australia-based carmakers have been struggling for a few years and one by one each of them begun winding up operations. The last car to be built in the country by General Motors will roll out this week. The target date is October 20, which will be the official date of the demise of the Australian automobile manufacturing industry.
GM is the last Australian manufacturing holdout; Ford ceased operations in the country last year and Toyota built its last vehicle in the country about two weeks ago. Australia has a long and storied manufacturing history that dates back to 1925 when Ford began building cars in the country. GM’s Holden division began building its own cars in the country in 1948. Toyota established its first manufacturing plant outside of Japan in Australia in 1963.
But over the last 15 years or so, the Australian manufacturing business has collapsed. At their height, Ford, Toyota and GM built around 150,000 vehicles in Australia per year. Last year the collective sales of locally produced vehicles plummeted to 87,000 units.
Toyota, Australia’s largest vehicle exporter, was hoping to keep the lights on a little longer, but that proved impossible with the departures of Ford and GM from local manufacturing. The Australian supplier base, which supplied parts to all three companies, simply couldn’t survive with orders from just one company.
Australia will now become an import retail operation. Most of the closed companies have reworked their retail, after-sales operations and retrained many former employees in new jobs. Overall job losses have been lessened with voluntary retirement schemes and payouts.