Who Really Killed the Australian Car Industry?

Here’s why the Australian car industry really died - and who killed it

There was a time when Australian car makers understood what Australian car buyers wanted

Ford, Holden and Toyota blame everyone and everything (except themselves) for the demise of local car making. The Federal government blames the opposition, and vice-versa. And the Victorian and South Australian premiers blame the feds. It’s all political buck-passing. Here’s what really killed car-making Down Under:

Perhaps you’re upset or even angry at the demise of the Australian car manufacturing industry. If you’re one of those outraged idiots, you should be ashamed of yourself. And so should Ford and Holden.

Former Holden boss Mike Devereux - architect of the last stages of Holden's transition to Australia's third South Korean importer

Ford had the audacity to throw a multi-million dollar VIP and media party at Fox Studios following its announcement to pull out of making cars here. General Motors actually saw fit to promote former Holden Boss Mike Devereux to a nice, cushy international job after being a good boy and overseeing the execution of Holden, and essentially signing off on the blueprint to transform the red lion into Australia’s third South Korean car company – the one without the five-year/unlimited kilometer warranty.

Toyota? Well, the world’s largest carmaker had more then enough cash to keep its Altona operation in Victoria cranking out Camrys and Aurions for Australia and the Middle East until the end of time – it just decided not to do that.

So you should lose the jingoistic patriotism. Ford, Holden and Toyota are as authentically Australian as McDonald’s. These are multinational companies with practically unlimited resources. They can do whatever they want.

Put your hand up, if you’re one of those outraged, tragic idiots bemoaning the demise of this lame duck industry that refused to float despite the armada of lifeboats the taxpayer floated in its direction. Put your had down if you actually bought a brand new, Commodore, Cruze, Falcon, Territory, Camry or Aurion in the past five years.

Have a look around at all those hands still in the air. That’s the real problem – all you so-called patriots who didn’t have the balls to put your money where your mouths are, and actually buy the product. You ‘hands up’ hypocrites have no valid claim whatsoever on your outrage or disappointment.

All three car companies have blamed the sky-high Aussie dollar, the low five per cent import tariff, the high cost of Australian labour and the impending free-trade agreements with Japan and South Korea. Also cited have been market fragmentation and reverse economies of scale.

For those of you who want to make this into a political football, it’s not a lack of government support that killed this industry. $4.5 billion over the past 12 years – with both sides of politics kicking the tin – that’s more than enough time and money to float just about anything, no matter how decrepit and how much water it’s actually taken on.

It’s what the manufacturers don’t say that gives this game away – Holden, Ford and Toyota got the product wrong. Aussie buyers increasingly don’t want what these clowns decided to make.

It cost the taxpayer $2.2 billion to see Commodore sales fall from 88 thousand in 2002 to 27 thousand last year.

Toyota got handed $1.2 billion over 12 years and yet Aurion sales dropped from 22 thousand in 2007 to under 7000 last year.

Ford got $1.1 billion from the taxpayer, and Falcon sales died in the water, down from 73 thousand in 2002 to just 10,600 last year.

Car companies call it ‘co-investment’ – the truth is far less palatable. It’s extortion: money for jobs. A protection racket. The mafia does business this way.

Large cars are on the nose. Fewer and fewer buyers actually want them. Businesses, keen to spruik their green credentials, won’t buy big sixes and V8s. Families want fours with fruit, or the new style of family wagon – the ubiquitous SUV. It’s a problem, if all you make here in Australia is big, thirsty, conventional cars.

Believe it or not, the current Corolla, Mazda3 and Hyundai i30 are the same size as the first generations of Holden Commodores - and the modern four-cylinder engines deliver as much performance as the late-1970s V8s...

A current model Mazda3 is the same approximate size and power output as the very first V8 Commodore. Ditto the Corolla, Lancer and Hyundai i30. Fully loaded, these impressive small cars are much cheaper than an entry-level Falcon.

Billions of donated taxpayer dollars have allowed these three manufacturers to luxuriate through a series of breathtaking, appalling and epic product planning failures. They blew it, and sucking on the taxpayer teat has lead directly to the fat lady warming up in the wings today. This is a salient lesson in the relative merits of blowing any future taxpayer funds in an attempt to keep brain-dead industries on life support. Making cars in Australia is a joke – on the Aussie taxpayer.

Thousands of workers like these will lose their jobs by 2017 as a consequence of the poor choices Holden, Ford and Toyota have made - aided and abetted by both sides of Government and you - the Aussie taxpayer