FORD Australia has blamed motorists' desires for more fuel-efficient cars for the loss of 440 jobs at its Victorian car factories.
The company's restructuring will see the number of vehicles produced at the Victorian plants fall from 209 to 148 a day.
While the job cuts, which will take effect late this year, were blamed on changing consumer habits, it comes just six months after the Federal Government gave the company $34 million to protect jobs.
But Industry Minister Greg Combet would not be drawn on whether the car industry subsidies were a success, instead pointing to changing dynamics and the high Australian dollar hurting the manufacturing industry.
"Ford has made it very clear to me that their decision is due to the company needing to restructure its production in response to changing consumer preferences, away from larger cars towards more fuel efficient vehicles," he said.
"The domestic automotive industry has been under significant pressure from the high Australian dollar, competition from imports and changing consumer sentiment, which has led to a 10 year decline in large car sales in Australia."
Opposition spokeswoman on industry Sophie Mirabella MP said the government never obtained guarantees regarding the future of jobs at Ford's factories.
"Within six months of the Prime Minister saying that: 'This is exactly the type of investment… to help shore up the future of our manufacturing sector … best of all it will secure jobs, not only in Victoria but also across the nation', 440 jobs are set to go," she said.