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by Tim Beissmann

The Ford Falcon endured its worst sales month in at least 15 years – potentially longer – in January 2011.

It’s a shocker of a result: Ford Falcon sales for January 2011 have plummeted to their lowest level in at least 15 years. CarAdvice has trawled through all all the new vehicle sales data available to us to reveal that last month’s 1157 sales (not including utes) was the worst result in at least a decade and a half for the Australian-made Falcon.

The data readily available to us stretches back to September 1996, and reveals Falcon to be incredibly far from the glory days of the past, where at times it sold at more than six times its current rate.

In September 2003, less than eight years ago, the Falcon had its strongest monthly sales result in modern history, with 7409 new Falcons sold (not including utes). That year was also Falcon’s best selling year ever, with 73,220 vehicles sold across the country.

The rise and fall of the Falcon:

2001 – 53,534

2002 – 54,629

2003 – 73,220

2004 – 65,384

2005 – 53,080

2006 – 42,390

2007 – 33,941

2008 – 31,936

2009 – 31,023

2010 – 29,516

The January result was the worst since January 2008, when Ford sold 1252 Falcons. It is one of only a handful of occasions that Falcon sales have been below 2000 units in the past 15 years.

Despite the wooden-spoon record-breaking Falcon sales, Ford Australia’s Sinead McAlary said January was a good month for the brand overall, with increased popularity of Fiesta, Focus and Ranger 4×4. The Blue Oval was down 4.7 percent (compared with the industry average 1.7 percent decline) and lost 0.3 percent market share compared with December 2010.

She said there were a number of factors behind the Falcon’s low sales result.

“January is generally a slow month for leasing companies, and what we found was it was an even quieter month for rental car companies,” Ms McAlary said.

“But the biggest single factor was the lack of LPG.”

Ford discontinued its LPG system in September last year, as it no longer complied with Euro IV emissions regulations. Ms McAlary said LPG-powered vehicles generally accounted for 20 to 25 percent of Falcon sales each month, and admitted there were only very small numbers of LPG Falcons still available from dealers.

Ford will replace the system around the middle of this year with its all-new LPI (liquid phase injection) LPG system, which promises to be more efficient and provide better performance than the old LPG system.

Ms McAlary decribed the introduction of the Falcon LPI, the four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in the fourth quarter and a facelift in the second half of the year as “paradigm shifts” for the vehicle, and evolutions that Ford expected would have a positive impact on sales.

The 2011 result was 50.1 percent below January 2010 (2318 units), and there is now the real possibility the Falcon could be replaced at the top of Ford Australia’s sales charts by the Fiesta or the Focus.

Fiesta sales increased 17.2 percent compared with January 2010, bringing the Thai-sourced light car within 30 units of the Falcon (1127 vs 1157).

The Focus also enjoyed a strong month, with sales up 25.8 percent to 1057 – exactly 100 shy of the Falcon.

Ms McAlary said Ford was not fazed by the prospect of smaller imports overtaking Falcon as the brand’s highest selling model, and said Ford Australia saw the increased popularity of its small vehicles as a positive thing.

“Those vehicles introduce new customers to the brand and both compete in growing segments,” she said.

She said Ford Australia had absolutely no intentions of holding either model back to keep the Falcon on top.

The January result saw the Falcon tumble outside the top 10 sellers for the first time in more than decade, but Ms McAlary said the ranking was of little significance to Ford.

“It means less to us that it means to all of you,” she said, in reference to the media’s fascination with Falcon sales data.

“Of course we would like more sales … but we want to build the right cars that the customers and the dealers are looking for.”

Ms McAlary predicted January – historically the slowest selling month of the year – would be the smallest month for the Falcon in 2011, but stopped short of offering forecasts for the rest of the year.

Sales of the Falcon’s main competitor, the Holden Commodore, were also low compared with January 2010. Holden sold 2645 Commodore’s in the first month of the year, 18.4 percent below last year’s 3241.

Sales of the Toyota Aurion were down 25.1 percent to just 654, while the mid-sized Camry – a top 10 regular in Australia – tied with the Focus in 16th position with 1057 sales, 12 percent fewer than in January 2010.

Read CarAdvice’s full analysis of the January 2011 VFACTS data.




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