More than 200 Ford workers have been told they have lost their jobs at the car maker's Victorian plants in Geelong and Broadmeadows.
About 120 workers put their hands up for voluntary redundancies but the company said it must axe a further 210 jobs because of a slump in sales.
About 70 jobs are being cut from Ford's Geelong plant and the rest from Broadmeadows in Melbourne's north.
Many long-term Ford employees are among those who have been told they they have lost their jobs.
Reaction at the Broadmeadows plant was mixed, with some workers remaining philosophical.
"Maybe I'll find something else, or maybe I'll stop work.
I don't know," one man told the ABC.
"It's just a let down, that's it," another said.
"Ford has been my life from the age of 18," another sacked worker said.
Those who have lost their jobs will receive a redundancy package that Ford has negotiated with unions.
Ford spokeswoman Sinead Phipps has told ABC local radio the company is making about 65,000 fewer cars than it did in 2004.
"Obviously today is a very difficult day for everybody, none more so obviously than the people who are actually leaving the business," she said.
"But what we're doing is restructuring our business to line up with the numbers of vehicles that we manufacture", she said.
Dave Smith from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) says it is up to all levels of government to help save the car manufacturing industry.
"I'd be calling on governments right across Australia today in terms of their local vehicle fleets to start supporting Australia," he said.
"We buy 16.7 per cent of Australian vehicles in our local government fleets and that really needs to change, and if it did these workers would not be losing their jobs today," Mr Smith said.
Ford has declared a production-free day as it breaks the news to each worker individually.
Mr Smith says it must be made clear the workers have done nothing wrong.
"They're being made redundant through no fault of their own, and I really want to stress that," he said.
"So that's the first hurdle they have to get over ...
that perception that these are discards or something like that - they are not.
"They are highly skilled workers that the company doesn't want to lose." Mr Smith says Ford has made guarantees it will treat departing employees, many of whom have been with the company for decades, with respect and dignity.
Mr Smith says the strength of the Australian dollar and high export tariffs have crippled the local automotive manufacturing sector.
He says while Holden has committed to local production for another decade and Ford until 2016, the future of Toyota in Australia is less clear.
He is urging the Victorian Government to do more to promote the industry and steer restructuring efforts to ensure its longevity.
He says the Government must also provide retraining opportunities for workers left without a job.
"They're very, very passionate about their employer, they love building cars, they're proud of the cars that they build and ...
they don't want to leave."