Even mortal enemies have hearts filled with compassion. This fact was reiterated this week when Ford Australia sent out a couple Tweets following the announcement that Holden – its biggest rival in this market – will be closing its doors after decades of rivalry both on the race track and in showrooms.
GM’s decision to shutter the brand after a 72-year run came as a shock to many. Holden has been the pride of a nation for decades. Holden is part of the fabric of Australia and New Zealand. By 1958, one out of two cars on Australian roads wore the Lion and Stone badge. By the early sixties, Holden had churned out over a million cars and by 1978, it had held the market lead for a quarter of a century, before giving way to Ford.
In a two-part post on Twitter, Ford Australia wrote: “All of us here at Ford Australia are saddened to hear the news that Holden will cease operations. Holden is an iconic brand that holds a special place in the heart of many Australians, and has done so much to shape the Australian automotive industry and the country.”
The second part of Ford’s Twitter post said: “(Holden’s) vehicles have been worthy competitors both on road and on the racetrack. To our friends at Holden, thank you for keeping us on our toes and inspiring us to keep aiming higher. We will miss you.”
Sadly, Holden will leave behind as many as 800 jobs, with many of them to cease by the end of June this year, from sales to design and engineering across Australia and New Zealand. However, GM officials said that around 200 people from the above figure will remain in their ongoing roles connected to the company’s pledge to offer up at least 10 years of customer service to existing Holden owners.
The decision to close its doors has also brought on the anger from those in government. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: "I am disappointed but not surprised. But I am angry, like I think many Australians would be. Australian taxpayers put billions into this multinational company. They [GM] let the brand just wither away on their watch. Now they are leaving it behind."
In a report by news.com.au, Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews also told reporters in Sydney: “I’m very disappointed with the decision that Holden has made. The Australian government in various forms has done a lot to support auto vehicle manufacturing here. A lot of money has been given to these car manufacturers to try and support them…that makes it particularly disappointing that they have made the decision that they have. Holden is walking away from Australia.”
Those are strong sentiments and likely mirror the emotions felt by countless Australian’s. According to a report by CarAdvice, Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews said she contacted Ford's Australia and New Zealand president and chief executive, Kay Hart, to ensure the company was planning to stick around. The Blue Oval is here to stay, was their response.
Ford is going one step further. Ms Andrews added that Ford had indicated to her that it may be able to absorb some of the 600 retrenched Holden employees. "We have such a big design and engineering team here in Australia," Ms Hart told the ABC. “We are hiring at the moment and I'm sure that there's some great talent in that Holden team.”
The Blue Oval is reportedly looking to sink another half billion Australian dollars into their operations here. Ford has around 2,000 engineers, designers and specialists across its four sites in Victoria, making them one of the largest employers in the state. In the end, it might be Ford who comes to the rescue of its foe in trouble.
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