Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of Australia's Dog & Lemon Guide, says there's no way around a central fact of Australian automobile production: "Australia's car factories are losing money on every vehicle they make." Because of that, he believes that there is no future for the domestic car industry Down Under, no matter how much money the government provides to keep factories open.
"You guys are obsessed with rear wheel drive," Alan Mulally mused to the Australian press after a browbeating about which pair of wheels might propel the Falcon into the future. Try as they might, the Ford Chief would not be pinned down about the chassis architecture of future Falcons, saying only that the choice would be customer driven, and plugging front and all-wheel drive vehicles as "pretty spectacular."
The consumer shift away from large gas guzzling vehicles has forced auto manufacturers in Australia, the land of large RWD saloons, to rethink and realign their production plans. Ford's Aussie subsidiary is boasting that it'll be the first automaker Down Under to respond to the movement towards smaller vehicles by starting production of its own small car locally.
Seemingly overnight the Australian market has become the holy grail for a pair of U.S. auto giants. That's because both General Motors and Ford are considering taking advantage of rear-wheel drive platforms that have prospered on the island continent by exporting them to new markets, including the U.S. GM, of course, has plans to bring its RWD Zeta platform to the States and use it to underpin the new Chevy Camaro, Pontiac G8 and a few other cars that have yet to get the final go-ahead. Ford, me