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Speaking to the media in Sydney yesterday, Ford Australia boss, Bob Graziano, is adamant that Ford’s local operations are heading in the right direction. More importantly, he strongly believes that the new Territory is a world-class vehicle.

The 2011 Ford Territory was developed as part of the $232 million investment fund that Ford has committed to its Australian operations.

Before we get too deep into Territory talk, it’s worth noting that this year will be a big one for Ford Australia. 2011 will see the blue oval update 85% of its showroom across the entire model lineup.

This includes the new Ranger and Focus plus an update to the Ford Falcon with new four-cylinder EcoBoost turbocharged engines as well as the introduction of liquid phase injection LPG system.

This will see the Australian made Falcon become the world’s first rear-wheel-drive EcoBoost four-cylinder engine vehicle from Ford.

Despite a poor start to the year for the iconic Falcon, with January figures pushing the model out of the top-ten selling cars list, Ford says the lack of LPG Falcon (which account for up to 25% of its market share) and XR8 variant has reduced the car’s selling potential.

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The team at Ford are quick to point out that comparing apples to apples, as in, six-cylinder Falcon sedan to six-cylinder Commodore sedan sales, the Falcon actually outsold the Commodore in 2010. It’s only when you combine the entire Commodore range (SS/Sportwagon) that Holden takes the lead.

Nonetheless, perhaps the fight to lead the large car segment is almost a moot point these days, given the overall decline.

Ford has a lot riding on the new Territory. The outgoing model is claiming a respectable 12 percent market share but given that the segment it competes in is 47 percent diesel and that it’s only offered in petrol, one only has to put two and two together to realise that the Territory’s marketshare should grow considerably with the introduction of diesel variants.

Ford Australia currently has no plans to export the Territory outside local markets. Asked about why the company took such a long time to bring out a diesel Territory, Mr Graziano said it was a matter of resource allocation and that when the Territory first launched, diesel SUVs were accounting for less than 25 percet of the market.

Meanwhile, Ford will not introduce a turbo six cylinder variant in the new Territory due to poor sales in the outgoing model. The team at Ford Australia believe that the extra torque from the soon to be released diesel Territory should convince potential customers that may have picked the turbo-six. No official performance figures have yet been released for the 2.7-litre diesel engine. Those details are expected on the 9th of March. It’s logical to assume that not too much has been modified for localisation to keep costs down.

According to Ford Australia exterior design boss Todd Willing, during the design phase of the Territory not only were similarly priced competitors thoroughly examined, but also aspirational competitors (such as BMW X3/5) were put under the Microscope. Leading to the Territory design coming to life in a modern and sophisticated manner.

Ford Australia will hold another media briefing on the 9th of March to discuss the vehicle’s technical specifications with the new Territory to be ready for media test drives in April.

Prices for the current Ford Territory starts from $36,990 for the base petrol variant. Now that you know what the Territory looks like, how much do you expect the base model (rear-wheel drive petrol TX) to start from and what do you think Ford will charge for the top-of-the-range Territory AWD Titanium diesel?

Read more on: 2011 Ford Territory.




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