Carmaking in Australia: Driven away

Holden’s golden days

WHEN Australia’s first locally made car, a Holden FX, rolled off the production line in 1948 it was greeted with an excitement that befitted a symbol of a youthful nation taking its place among advanced economies. Such was the enthusiasm for an indigenous car that around 18,000 punters paid deposits to buy one without even seeing it.Toyota’s announcement on February 10th that it would join Ford and Holden in pulling out of carmaking in Australia, closing its assembly line in 2017, was greeted with commensurate dismay. Yet beneath the obligatory political blame-mongering was an acceptance that everything has turned against carmaking in Australia.The departure of the last big carmaker is as inevitable as an argument at a barbecue over the merits of a Ford versus a Holden. Mitsubishi closed its plant in Adelaide six years ago. The latest exodus began last May, when Ford said it would go in 2016. Holden, part of General Motors, said just before Christmas that it would quit in 2017.The industry has been in decline for years. A decade ago Australia produced 400,000 cars a year; in 2013 it churned out just over 200,000…

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