25 October 2015

Mature Market Vehicle Production : Australia

A fair dinkum ute, for anyone who hasn't seen one

Figures vary with sources so what is exact data is unknown. However, what I have is close and gives an accurate picture. It shows how the industry has gone down. The volumes were good by 1960 standards but didn't kick on. It was based around large cars which were suited to a big country. Some factors then went against it.

First, exports were a challenge because big cars were not popular in many countries and North America already had its big car industry sorted.

Secondly the big car has been losing customers to the SUV category and there was little response to that. Ford came out with the Territory SUV but even that was given little export push.

Third tariffs that protected inefficiencies within the industry were taken away over time. Then it had to propped up with government subsidies to survive.

So of the car makers left in the 21st century, Ford did nothing about exports except to New Zealand. GM Holden added North America to Ford's effort with Pontiac but that brand ended and so did the exports. Toyota did best with sales to the Middle East. When Ford said it was over, GM soon followed and Toyota had no choice but to join them. (There are some large trucks assembled too, which I know little of).

The Ford Territory didn't travel very far

Below are the production numbers as best as they can be known. CVs have played a small part of the industry, mainly utes (cars turned into pick-ups), the sole SUV and some big trucks.

Year Vehicle Car CV % CV

1960 285,000 230,000 55,000 19.3%

1965 397,000 324,000 73,000 18.4%

1970 472,000 392,000 80,000 16.9%

1975 435,000 351,000 84,000 19.3%

1980 364,000 318,000 46,000 12.6%

1985 411,000 384,000 27,000 6.6%

1990 382,000 361,000 21,000 5.5%

1995 319,000 294,000 25,000 7.8%

2000 356,000 330,000 26,000 7.3%

2005 395,000 316,000 79,000 20.0%

2010 249,500 207,000 42,500 17.0%

2014 180,000 146,000 34,000 18.9%

Summary: Many in Australia are upset that the car industry is to close by 2017. The fact remains that it needed to make vehicles that were relevant to the 21st century and to export them. Neither happened sufficiently. The car industry was uncompetitive so it needed to go. Not wishing to sound callous, it probably should have gone sooner.

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