GM's Holden to exit Australia as early as 2016 - reports

Reuters

SYDNEY, Dec 6 (Reuters) - General Motors Co hasdecided to pull out of vehicle production in Australia as earlyas 2016, local media reported on Friday, in what would be amajor blow to the struggling industry.

Citing unnamed senior government sources, the AustralianBroadcasting Corp said an announcement on the decision to closewas supposed to have been made this week but had been put offuntil early next year.

A GM spokesman in Detroit declined to comment on thereports.

Both Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and shadow ministerKim Carr said they understood no decision had been made.

Australia's auto industry has been under pressure for yearsas high costs, a strong local dollar, weak exports and toughinternational competition take a toll.

It has been propped up by billions of dollars in governmentsupport, support that has become less certain since TonyAbbott's conservative government won power in September.

The Australian automotive industry employs more than 50,000people and supports 200,000 other manufacturing jobs. Any exitby Holden is likely to affect the economies of scale at ToyotaMotor Corp.

"This is an eco-system. If one goes, it's only a matter oftime before the whole lot goes," Carr told reporters on Friday.

In May, Ford Motor Co will shut its two Australianauto plants in October 2016, following the exit of MitsubishiMotors in 2008.

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