As thousands of people attended an automobile rally in Australia's blue-collar heartland on Sunday, many knew it was also a funeral procession for the nation's car industry.
General Motors closed its Holden factory in the South Australian suburb of Elizabeth on Friday, ending more than a century of car manufacturing in the country. Hundreds of workers will be left jobless, just weeks after Toyota Motor Corp. shut its plant in neighboring Victoria state, where Ford Motor Co. closed two sites last year.
Current and former workers and other car enthusiasts gathered outside the factory Friday to greet the last car off the production line.
"The end of Holden making cars in Australia is a very sad day for the workers and for every Australian. It is the end of an era," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters at a regular briefing on Friday. "Everyone has a Holden story."
Rising discretionary income and record-low interest rates have encouraged consumers to buy new vehicles, but many turned against the large passenger cars for which GM Holden is known.
"Consumers want fuel-efficient small cars and sports utility vehicles, and overseas manufacturers have been able to profit from changing tastes," said William McGregor, industry analyst at IBISWorld.
Monthly SUV and crossover sales hit a record in June, surpassing 40,000 light vehicles, data from Australia's Bureau of Statistics show.