CANBERRA, Australia – Ford Motor Co. ended 91 years of car manufacturing in Australia on Friday, with the remaining two Australian car makers due to close their doors next year.
Ford Australia said it built the world’s last six-cylinder, rear-wheel drive Falcon XR6 at its Broadmeadows plant in Melbourne and 600 employees lost their jobs.
About 3.5 million Falcons, once Australians’ most popular car, have been built since 1960, although few have been exported.
Perhaps the most famous was a black 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon Coupe that became the Interceptor driven by Mel Gibson’s character in the 1981 movie “The Road Warrior.”
The last Falcon will be exhibited in the Ford Australia museum, the Australian subsidiary’s chief executive officer, Graeme Whickman, told reporters outside the plant.
“Today is an emotional day for the entire team of Ford Australia,”Whickman said.
“We are saying goodbye to some wonderful manufacturing colleagues who have done a great deal for Ford in Australia,” he said.
Ford, General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. announced in 2013 that they were quitting Australia and shedding 6,600 jobs because of high production costs, distance from potential export markets and increasing competition.
Ford will continue to sell and service imported cars in Australia and Australia-based engineers will help develop designs of vehicles that will be manufactured overseas, the company said.
Because of that continuing presence, Whickman said Ford will become the largest employer in the Australian automotive industry when Toyota and General Motors subsidiary GM Holden end production in 2017. The V8 Holden Commodore is sold in the United States as the Chevrolet SS.
Ford will employ 2,000 staff at Broadmeadows and the Victoria state towns of Lara and Geelong. Ford opened its first Australian production line at Geelong in 1925.