October 20, 2017, marks the death of the Australian automobile manufacturing industry and the date General Motors built its last car in the Land Down Under.
The end of the line for the Australian auto industry was long foreseen, but its actuality will nevertheless be felt by the thousands who saw it as a big part of Australian culture.
GM was the last manufacturer to holdout, with Toyota ceasing operations two weeks earlier and Ford building its last vehicle in 2016.
Australia’s long and storied manufacturing history started way back in 1925 when Ford began building cars in the country. GM’s Holden division followed suit with assembly of its own cars in 1948, while the country served as the location for Toyota’s first manufacturing plant outside of Japan in 1963.
Output started to decline in the mid-1970s after reaching almost 500,000 cars in 1974. Sales from Ford, Toyota and GM plummeted to around 87,000 units apiece in 2016 compared to the 150,000 vehicles they built annually at their height.
The death of Australia’s automobile manufacturing industry can be largely attributed to the country’s very low import tariffs, which flooded the market with foreign cars that were either cheaper to buy and / or better equipped than locally-made vehicles.
The country’s notably higher labor costs compared to neighboring developing countries like Thailand also didn’t help matters, effectively trapping its auto auto-manufacturing industry a pincer movement with regards to competitiveness.
All major mainstream cars sold in Austrian will be imported moving forward. What are your thoughts?