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by Jez Spinks

The Ford Territory could be sold in Thailand in a rare export deal for Ford Australia.

Ford is showcasing its Australian-built SUV at the Bangkok motor show from late March to gauge consumer reaction.

“There’s a possibility for introducing the Territory to the Thai market,” says Ford Australia spokesman Neil McDonald. “It’s certainly an opportunity we’re looking at. It’s a toe in the water.

“The show car will be a [range-topping Territory] Titanium; they’re looking at high-end models specifically.”

Ford is looking to export the Titanium TDCi diesel model specifically, a model that uses a Land Rover 2.7-litre V6 turbo diesel combined with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Ford Australia says it only expects to ship about 100 Territorys a year to Thailand, though it’s still positive news for a company that has struggled to match the export programs of fellow local car makers Holden and Toyota.

The Broadmeadows-based outfit did introduce about 20 Territory models to Thailand in 2005 – a year after the vehicle’s launch. The export program collapsed, however, when the Thai government made a late change to details of the just-launched free-trade agreement with Australia.

Thailand added a 60 per cent excise on foreign models powered by engines bigger than 3.0 litres in capacity, cruelling the business case for the 4.0-litre six-cylinder petrol Ford Territory.

It’s understood Ford will pitch the Territory as a premium model to help reduce the excise impositions by 10 per cent, a case also helped by the 2.7-litre turbo diesel engine that was added to the SUV’s line-up in April 2011.

If the export program is confirmed, it will make a welcome change of direction for Ford models that are coming to Australia from Thailand in increasing numbers.

Australia’s Ford Fiesta allocation moved from Europe to Thailand in late 2010, the Ford Ranger ute – designed and developed by Ford Australia – is imported from the Asian country, and the Ford Focus will follow later this year.

The Bangkok motor show will also see the debut of that Thai-built Ford Focus, which will replace German-built versions of the small car currently imported to Australia.

The new Focus will include Ford’s Sync system, and the company says the specification and trim will be similar to the German models.

The Ford Fiesta, in contrast, lost two-way adjustable steering wheel and soft-touch dash plastics when it switched to Thailand production for Australia.




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