Car production in Australia plunges in 2009

14:21, January 10, 2010      

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Car production in Australia has plunged to its lowest level since 1957, with manufacturers hit by the global economic slump and the high Australian dollar, Fairfax newspapers reported on Sunday.

Despite strong local car sales, helped by the federal government's business tax breaks, exports to markets such as the Middle East and the United States have all but collapsed, the report said.

The industry is set to be further buffeted by a Jan. 1 tariff cut that has lowered the price of imported models relative to locally produced cars.

Figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries showed Australia produced just 225,713 vehicles last year, almost 100,000 fewer than in 2008 and 55 percent of the output in 2004.

The chamber's chief executive, Andrew McKellar, told Fairfax a "crucial factor" this year will be the speed of recovery in export markets, warning that the high dollar poses a serious long-term threat to the competitiveness of the industry.

Source: Xinhua
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