A sad day for Australian motoring

In 2013, Ford Australia announced that it will stop making cars by the end of 2016. The company quoted uncompetitive manufacturing costs, poor sales, as well as losses of AUD$141 million and AUD$290 million (around $107 and $219 million) in 2012 and 2011, respectively. The decision meant that about 1,200 people would lose their jobs and that the brand would cease to exist after 90 years on the market. Come 2016 and Ford has commenced the unfortunate process by axing the Falcone Ute.

The last unit of the two-door coupe utility vehicle rolled of the company’s assembly line in Melbourne on July 29, putting an end to a lineage that goes back to 1961. The last example built, a white XR6 model, will remain with Ford.

The Ute’s death marks the beginning of Ford’s Australian shut down and will be followed by the Falcon sedan and the Territory SUV in October.

“It will be held in our historical vehicle fleet, along with the final Falcon and final Territory, both of which will be built on October 7,” said Wes Sherwood, Ford Australia’s communications and public affairs director.

One that happens, Australians will no longer be able to buy locally built Fords. Instead, the Blue Oval will import cars from other countries. For instance, the Falcon Ute will be replaced by the Ranger pickup truck, which is produced in Thailand.

Ford is not the only manufacturer shutting down Australian production. Holden is also set to cease operations in 2017, while Toyota will close its Camry assembly line in Victoria at the end of 2017.

Keep reading for the full story.

Brief Ford Ute History

Ford Bids Farewell to the Falcon Ute Exterior
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Ford is credited with creating the world’s first "closed cab" pickup truck in 1928, as well as the first Australian "ute" in 1934. The Ford Ute, originally called a "coupe utility," was the result of a 1932 letter from a farmer’s wife from Victoria asking for “a vehicle to go to church in on a Sunday and which can carry our pigs to market on Mondays.” The first Ford Utes were based on the Model A. Starting 1961, Ford Australia began producing Utes based on its popular Falcon platform. The change also brought a separate cargo bed and distinct utility and cab chassis models. Since 1961, Ford produced seven generations of the Ute and built more than 467,000 units. The Ute’s major competitor came from Holden, which was based on various sedan models, including the Kingswood and the Commodore. The latter is still in production, but will be discontinued in 2017. Chrysler, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, and Toyota also offered various "ute" models, but none were as successful as Ford’s.

Why It Matters?

Ford Bids Farewell to the Falcon Ute Exterior
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It’s really sad to see the Ford Ute go. Much more so since it’s the vehicle that basically started this whole trend in Australia. The death of the Ford Ute is also the beginning of the end for the coupe utility in general, as Australia was the only major market that offered this body style. When the Commodore will be phased out, so will the "ute" concept. Sure, some Asian markets still get Ute-like vehicles, but none will become as iconic as the Ford Ute and Holden Commodore.

What’s more, with both vehicles going extinct, there’s very little hope that the U.S. will get modern versions of the Chevrolet El Camino or Ford Ranchero anytime soon. Finally, the Ute previews the death of the Falcon and Ford’s entire Australian manufacturing, a sad day not only for the auto industry Down Under, but for the global market as a whole.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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