Talk about your two-speed economy. Australia’s car industry is on two tracks: one a speed-unlimited highway, the other a pot-holed goat track that has broken-down cars moving at a crawl.

Ford announced more job cuts at its Victorian plants today — 440 more workers to go from Geelong and Broadmeadows, despite a $103 million injection of federal government funds in January.

And yet new car sales figures out today point to a buoyant industry. As Crikey reports, sales data for June hit new records across all key categories, marking the first time ever that monthly total car sales went over 100,000.

So what’s going on? We’re buying more cars than ever, just not the sort of cars Ford is making. Smaller is better — fuel-efficient medium-sized vehicles are in, gas-guzzling sedans are out.

Ford saw the trend long ago, of course. Propped up by taxpayer funds, it’s begun to adapt to changing consumer demands. The company’s Australian president and chief executive Bob Graziano talked about hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in greener, cheaper vehicles in the pipeline.

The workers who will lose their jobs over the coming months will wonder why it took so long. Taxpayers may wonder the same.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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