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Analysis and Comment (30)

Efficient manufacturing depends largely on scale, and Australia’s car production numbers have fallen. AAP/Adi Weda

Car manufacturing numbers just don’t stack up

Now that the final nail has been hammered in to the car industry’s coffin, what does it mean for the Australian economy? As always, the data is a good place to start. Efficient manufacturing depends largely…
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is betting the rapid demise of Australia’s automotive sector can be contained politically. Alan Porritt/AAP

Managed decline to rapid demise: Abbott’s car industry gamble

For the past 30 years, Australian automotive industry policies can be characterised as managed decline. Beginning in the 1980s with the Button Plan, the aim of policy was to consolidate the industry and…
Global shift: one-in-three vehicles produced by Toyota are manufactured in Asia. AAP

Toyota’s exit was inevitable: now for real test of government

Toyota Australia President and CEO, Max Yasuda, has described the car maker’s decision to leave Australia as one of the saddest days in its history worldwide. I do not doubt the emotion expressed by Mr…
The link between manufacturing cars and developing technology has been fundamental in Australia. AAP

Losing the car industry means we risk our technology

As I’ve argued before and it’s generally accepted, the car industry is a critical part of Australia’s science and technology base. The sector spends A$600 million a year on R&D and another $800 million…
Toyota has surprised with an announcement it would finish manufacturing cars here at the end of 2017. AAP

Toyota names 2017 end, Australian car making to cease: experts react

Toyota has confirmed it will cease its vehicle and engine production in Australia by the end of 2017, signalling the end of automotive manufacturing in Australia. The announcement follows decisions by…
The Productivity Commission has recommended the car industry should receive no additional government funding. AAP

No sacred cows: Productivity Commission targets Toyota

Ford and Holden gone. SPC Ardmona in jeopardy. Toyota under threat. The Productivity Commission’s (PC) position paper on automotive industry support fires a clear shot across the bows of the manufacturing…
The right policy settings will drive Australia toward a creative economy that produces knowledge and information. Paul Gorbould

From manufacturing’s ashes a creative economy could rise

General Motors Holden’s decision to pull the pin on its Melbourne manufacturing plant spurred renewed debate around government-subsidised industry sectors. But instead of throwing money into a flailing…
Holden’s latest ad campaign promises “We’re here to stay”, but it seems to have misread the market. AAP/Holden

Holden’s issue advertising campaign misses the mark

In the shadow of its worst ever annual sales figures – fewer than 28,000 Commodores sold in 2013 – Holden is persisting with an extraordinary advertising campaign to “explain” its decision to cease car…
Debt; dollar; deficit - the mantra for this year, amid a turbulent political period. AAP

2013, the year that was: Business and Economy

Debt. Dollar. Deficits. Three little words so close to the hearts of our contributors in a year dominated by a critical federal election, a waning mining boom and continuing international turbulence. The…
Toyota is the ‘last man standing’ in Australian car manufacturing, but it needs to shift from an ‘us and them’ approach to industrial relations. Alan Porritt/AAP

Toyota needs a new approach to avoid the road to nowhere

The Productivity Commission will today release the preliminary report of its inquiry into Australian automotive manufacturing industries, ensuring the future of car manufacturing in Australia continues…
The Leyland P76 was supposed to rescue the company - but noone bought it. Flikr/ peterhut

Lessons Holden might have learned from our worst car failure

One of the main complaints thrown around since Holden announced it would cease manufacturing in Australia has been that it failed to make a product that the market wanted. Forty years ago, this complaint…
Motoring executives and politicians have met to discuss assistance for the manufacturing sector, but they shouldn’t overlook the need for local leaders. Joe Castro/AAP

After Holden: think national, act local

The Abbott government has made its first move to assist the regions affected by Holden’s planned closure. A high-profile taskforce, to be led by prime minister Tony Abbott and include two other federal…
Redundancies at Holden highlight the fact that around three quarters of those retiring early do so involuntarily. Julian Smith/AAP

Holden, retirement ages and the myth of choice

Holden’s move to withdraw from Australian manufacturing draws attention to the significant problem of involuntary retirement in Australia. While the official retirement age is 65 years, there are many…
Toyota has a history of operational excellence in Australia. Joe Castro/AAP

Last ‘man’ standing: what now for Toyota in Australia?

Now that Ford and Holden have announced the 2017 closure of their Australian manufacturing and assembly operations, what are the prospects for the industry and its key remaining participant, Toyota? Unlike…
Those scrutinising government support of the car industry have changed their views over time. judepics/Flickr

Measuring the fallout of Holden’s ‘perfect storm’

For many decades, Australians have regarded a local car industry as a demonstration of our domestic capability. Sometimes, we have paid dearly for our enthusiasm. In the late 1970s, import quotas limited…
Does the Holden pull-out have to mean the death of Australian manufacturing? Daniel Munoz/AAP

The future of manufacturing: niche doesn’t need to be small

An unfortunate consequence of Holden and Ford’s decision to cease manufacturing cars in Australia is the negative impression that all local manufacturing is similarly doomed. Yet there are plenty of local…
Floating the Australian dollar helped us flourish - but was no panacea to all economic ills. Image sourced from www.shutterstock.com

The float Australia had to have?

The Australian dollar was floated this day in 1983. By 1985, it seemed to take on water, list badly, and sink. And that actually was the idea. The real exchange rate – roughly, the dollar rate, adjusted…
Holdens – such as this FJ model – defined a national culture of mobility and masculinity in 20th century Australia. Wikimedia Commons

An end to Australia’s auto dream: why we loved Holden

Yesterday we learned that our collective support for Holden is coming to an end. The demise of “Australia’s Own” has been on the cards for years. After all, this country is one of the most expensive places…
The withdrawal of General Motors in Australia follows the step back of government support for GMH in the US. Hugo90/Flickr

Moving on: Holden closure shows we need a new growth agenda

General Motors has confirmed it will cease manufacturing in Australia from 2017, citing a “perfect storm of negative influences”. GM chairman Dan Akerson said these forces include “the sustained strength…
Chairman and Managing Director of GM Holden, Mike Devereux, has confirmed the company will cease making cars here by 2017. Julian Smith/AAP

Holden to cease making cars in Australia by 2017: experts react

General Motors Holden has confirmed speculation it will withdraw from car production in Australia by the end of 2017. The announcement by Holden comes after days of sustained public speculation and calls…
Holden boss Mike Devereux says the car maker has made no decision on its future. AAP

Holden is one piece in GM’s global restructuring puzzle

In the wake of the global financial crisis, Holden’s parent company, General Motors was placed on life support. Its fortunes collapsed along with the US economy, leading the United States government to…
Holden may shut up shop in Australia, and the government is already considering the fallout. Lukas Coch/AAP

Adding up the flow-on effects of a Holden closure

The idea of further government support for the ailing automotive industry (AKA the Holden problem) generates considerable political and economic debate. For economists and business academics, it comes…
Recent redundancies at Holden have sparked debate over the need for a revised “industry policy”: but is this really the way forward? AAP/Andrew Brownbill

Industry policy must not second guess markets

The recent GM-Holden redundancies have provoked much comment, in many cases appealing for both state and federal governments to find solutions. But can government solve this dilemma, or is it a (big) part…
Instead of relying on unconditional government largess, car companies in Australia should be asked to provide guarantees. AAP

Moving the car industry debate beyond a squabble over subsidies

A famous quote from Albert Einstein states that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity. Yet this is exactly what has occurred in the car industry which has…

Research and News (3)