HAD MORNING TEA WITH MY NEW NEIGHBOURS BRIAN AND ISABELLA THE OTHER DAY. IíM THE NEW ONE, THOUGH IíVE NOW BEEN HERE 12 MONTHS. IíM ON NODDING TERMS WITH SOME OF THE HOUSES AROUND ME, BUT THATíS ABOUT IT.
THATíS THE WAY IT IS THESE DAYS. BUSY LIVES, BUSY PEOPLE.
How times have changed. When I was a kid, my parents were on first-name terms with most of the street. Even had intercoms strung to the houses next door, and gates cut in the fences so we didnít have to go the long way round.
Spending time with Brian and Isabella over home-made scones with jam and cream was fascinating. Theyíve lived in their house for almost 60 years. When they bought it for a few thousand dollars, Bentleigh was described on real estate brochures as peaceful semi-rural living.
Now, itís ďjust minutes from the cityĒ. Back then the roads were dirt, and every house was built the same. Even the kitchen appliances were similar, down to the GM Holden oven and hot-plate.
Most days, Brianís out front tending his already immaculate garden, or washing his clean cars.
Heís got a Mazda 3 for everyday use, and an AU Falcon under a cover in the garage. Brianís had the AU since new, and considered trading it in on the Mazda, but the offer was pitiful, even in on the Mazda, but the offer was pitiful, even though itís in near-showroom condition with low kilometres. So Brian decided to keep it for the grandson whoís fast approaching his 18th.
Itís Brianís fourth Ford, and he had a few Holdens before that. Like many older Australians, his loyalty to Australian-made cars started because they offered great value for money at a time when there wasnít much competition. Each has been reliable, so heís seen no need to stray.
I was on my fourth scone when Brian said something that stopped me mid-chomp. It was such a shame Holden and Ford were going, he said, and that weíd only be able to buy Toyotas or Mazdas or other imported cars. Holden and Ford helped get this country moving after WWII.
Progress is progress, he said, but itíll be sad to see them die.
He wasnít using ĎHoldení and ĎFordí as pseudonyms for Commodore and Falcon. He honestly believes Holden and Ford will be no more. And heís not alone. Iíve heard similar sentiments from many people who arenít as well informed as Wheels readers. They may not be car enthusiasts, but they still buy carsÖ hundreds of thousands of new cars every year. And they believe Ford and Holden will cease to exist in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
This public misconception is a massive problem for those two brands because the locally produced cars on death row are but a small portion of their overall sales. The imported cars that will carry these brands into the future are not dying, but many Australians assume they are.
Combatting that misconception, while also giving Commodore and Falcon the public send-off they deserve, is one heck of a challenge for the Holden and Ford marketing departments. Theyíve been working on strategies for two years now, but their work, clearly, is far from done.
TOYOTAíS decision to cease manufacturing in Australia isnít perceived publically with the same range-wide fi nality as Holdenís and Fordís. Camryís ongoing presence as an import model from 2018 gives showroom continuity, but thereís more to it than that. For years Toyota tried to crack the big Aussie six market, most notably with Avalon and Aurion, but consumers never really warmed to them. Does Toyota now see that as a lucky break?