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Associated Press
GM said Wednesday it will stop making cars and engines in Australia by the end of 2017 because of high production costs. The news puts 2,900 jobs and the country’s industry at risk.

GM to stop making cars in Australia by 2017

– General Motors Co. said Wednesday it will stop making cars and engines in Australia by the end of 2017, with nearly 2,900 jobs to be lost, because of high production costs and competition.

The decision could spell the end of car manufacturing in Australia, as the industry will be too small for supporting businesses such as parts makers to remain economic. Toyota Motor Corp. announced it is reassessing its future in Australia. A union said 50,000 jobs in the auto industry are in jeopardy.

GM’s Australian subsidiary, Holden, once dominated Australian auto sales, but it lost market share to imported cars. Ford Motor Co., once Holden’s major rival in Australia, announced in May that it was ending production in the country in 2016. Toyota is the only other auto manufacturer in Australia.

Australia had four car manufacturers before Mitsubishi Motors Corp. shut its doors in 2008.

GM’s announcement has been anticipated for months. The Australian government has been under mounting pressure to offer increased subsidies to the Detroit-based company to keep it manufacturing in Australia for the sake of the auto parts industry.

The decision reflected the “perfect storm of negative influences” that Australia’s auto industry faces, GM chief executive Dan Akerson said in a statement. Describing Australia as “arguably the most competitive and fragmented auto market in the world,” he also blamed the sustained strength of the Australian dollar, high costs of production, and a small population.

Holden, which has manufactured cars in Australia for 65 years, would become a sales company, he said.

The announcement was made as GM, which has an Allen County truck plant and a Defiance, Ohio, foundry, revealed that Akerson will be replaced by Mary Barra on Jan. 15.

GM Australia chairman Mike Devereux said GM cars rebadged as Holdens would continue to be sold and serviced in Australia after 2017.