Ford Down Under's public relations people have been on a tear since it was announced last night that the company will cease production of their unique Australian models by 2016. Is Ford Australia dead? No way, Aussie Ford says. Everything is sunny all the time always!
Until last night, Ford Australia's Twitter account was a sleepy place, updated a couple times a day at most. But when news hit the web that Ford will end their Australian vehicle production, citing a strong Australian dollar and a declining local market for big, rear-wheel-drive cars, they went into hardcore damage control about how everything is actually fine. Great, in fact!
Yes, the famed Ford Falcon is dying! But you can still get a refreshed one in 2014!
And yes, Ford Australia's shutdown of two production facilities will mean a loss 1,200 jobs... but did you know you can get refreshed Falcon in 2014? AND a refreshed Ford Territory SUV?
As for the impact on Aussie V8 Supercars, well, they're working on that.
Understandably, many people freaked out and believed that Ford was withdrawing from the Aussie market entirely. That's not the case, Ford says — it just means Aussie buyers will get the "global" vehicles everyone else gets. This meant they had to "correct" some customers and even journalists who said they're exiting Australia.
That last line got repeated a whole lot.
Jalopnik also drew the ire of a Ford spokesman, who emailed us and asked that we change the headline of our story yesterday, which was originally titled "Ford Australia Is Dead."
We read with interest your story on Ford of Australia’s news today and want to clarify that our business remains in Australia even though we will cease operations at two manufacturing facilities in 2016. We would appreciate if you could update your headline to reflect this clarification, or let us know if you have questions. Thank you.
We did charitably modify the headline to "The Australian Ford Is Dead," and Matt pointed the spokesman toward the part of the story which says "Ford Australia will still exist, but it won't be the same."
That wasn't good enough for Ford, who requested a further change to the headline.
But as Matt said in his response, "Sure, there will be some form of Ford of Australia, but if you took Keith Richards and Mick Jagger out of The Rolling Stones it wouldn't really be The Rolling Stones anymore."
I fully understand the economic reasons for Australian Ford's decision. Realities are realities, and it shouldn't be all that surprising given CEO Alan Mulally's "One Ford" strategy.
It could even be argued that, by announcing all of this years ahead of time, they're doing a better job than most of helping the communities and companies impacted by this decision prepare.
But Ford needs to not act so indignantly at the reaction to this news. Jobs are jobs, and this means 1,200 of them will disappear. Plus, people are outraged over the fact that this decision comes after a $34 million investment in Ford by the Australian government.
More than that, when you think of Australian Ford, you don't think of the Focus or the Fusion. You think of big, rear-wheel-drive sedans with straight sixes and V8s, the kind you barely find anywhere else in the world anymore. You think of Ford Falcons thundering around a V8 Supercars track. You think of utes. You want them desperately to come to your country so you, too, can properly hoon them.
That's what Australian Ford was all about. And while the company may make more money selling Fiestas, ending the production of uniquely Australian cars means it has lost what makes it the company it was. How did they expect people to react?
Ford Australia may not be dead, but the Australian Ford is.