Ford Australia is the Australian subsidiary of Ford Motor Company and was founded in Geelong, Victoria, in 1925 as an outpost of Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited. At that time, Ford Canada was a separate company from Ford USA. Henry Ford had granted the manufacturing rights to Ford in British Empire (later Commonwealth) countries (excepting the UK) to Canadian investors.
Its first products were Model Ts assembled from complete knock-down (CKD) kits provided by Ford of Canada. Nevertheless, it is best known in more recent times for having produced the Falcon, originally a U.S. model introduced in Australia in 1960, but adapted to Australian requirements and road conditions. Since the release of the XA model in 1972, Falcons have been fully Australian designed. It also produces a four-wheel-drive model called the Territory.
Ford Australia is the only Australian car manufacturer which designs and manufactures its own unique high-volume engines.
On March 31, 1925, Ford announced that Geelong, was to be the Australian headquarters. The first Australian-built Ford was a Model T that came off an improvised production line in a disused Geelong woolstore in June 1925, while work started on a factory in the nearby suburb of Norlane. In 1928 the factory switched to the Model A and was followed by the Ford V8 in 1932.
In 1934 the company released the world's first coupe utility. The inventor was Ford engineer Lewis Bandt. During the Depression, banks would not extend credit to farmers to purchase passenger cars- in the belief they were unnecessary luxuries. However, they would lend money for the purchase of "working" vehicles. The coupe utility fulfilled the need of farmers to have a workhorse which could also be used "to take the wife to church on Sunday and to the market on Monday".
In 1956 the company bought a large tract of land in the northern Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows, and in July 1961 announced that the new Melbourne factory would become the company headquarters.
Ford has two main factories, both in Victoria: located in the Geelong suburb of Norlane and the northern Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows. The Ford Discovery Centre, a museum of the history of the Ford Motor Company in Australia is also located in Geelong.
Ford has also designated as one of five (worldwide) full service Regional Product Development Centre, specifically for the Asia Pacific and African regions. Products launched so far include the Ford Ikon and Fiesta in India and the Ford Bantum ute and Ikon (a re-badged Fiesta) in South Africa. Just recently, it developed the new Ranger.
Ford Australia started by assembling Model Ts. As Ford introduced new models, these were assembled in Australia. During World War II, Ford Australia ceased producing cars to commence military production to support the war effort.
After World War II, Ford recommenced assembly of imported Ford models. Initially, they assembled the UK sourced Pilot, then a range of British cars, including the Prefect, Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac. Ford also assembled the Canadian Ford V8.
The Laser was produced in Ford's plant at Homebush in Sydney, from 1981 until September 1994 when the plant closed, after which they were fully imported from Japan.
Mid-size cars assembled in Australia included the Ford Anglia, Escort and Cortina from the UK. These were adapted for the Australian market: for example, from 1972, the Cortina was available with the option of either a 3.3-litre or 4.1-litre 6-cylinder engine, and the Escort could be offered across the range with the Cortina's 2.0L motor. In 1977, lack of capacity meant that the Cortina wagon was in fact assembled in Renault's (now long since closed) Australian factory.
The Cortina's replacement, the Mazda-based Telstar, was initially assembled in Australia.
Large family car
The North American Ford Falcon was assembled in Australia in 1960. The Australian and American product lines separated during the mid 1960s when the US Ford product proved inconsistent with Australian desires and requirements; In fact the initial Falcon required extensive re-engineering beyond standard RHD adaptation for Australian conditions. Since its initial offerings the Falcon has proven to be Ford Australia's most popular car.
Ford has manufactured over three million units since 1960, and has topped the sales charts on many occasions. Currently the Falcon lineup is offered in sedan and utility body styles, however in the past panel vans, station wagons, and hardtops were offered. Falcons have dominated the ranks of taxis in Australia and New Zealand, along with sister car, the Ford Fairlane, and have been widely used as police cars, especially in performance variants.
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