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

SYDNEY Thu Dec 5, 2013 5:07pm EST

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

Citing unnamed senior government sources, the Australian Broadcasting Corp said an announcement on the decision to close was supposed to have been made this week but had been put off until early next year.

A GM spokesman in Detroit declined to comment on the reports.

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

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

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

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

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

In May, Ford Motor Co will shut its two Australian auto plants in October 2016, following the exit of Mitsubishi Motors in 2008.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Find your dream retirement town

Florida? Hawaii? Reuters has teamed up with Zillow to give you the power to customize a list of your best places to retire.  Video | Full Article