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by Tim Beissmann

The future of Ford Performance Vehicles is under a cloud after the Melbourne-based sports car maker confirmed the sacking of its general manager and a number of support staff.

FPV general manager Rod Barrett was one of an unconfirmed number of employees, reportedly between 12 and 17 workers, stood down from the high-performance division’s Campbellfield headquarters in what the company has labeled “a restructure of its business”.

Barrett has been replaced in the head role at FPV by Bryan Mears, who is also the managing director of Prodrive – the company that supports Ford Australia to design, engineer and produce FPV cars.

Mears explained the responsibilities of Barrett and the other sacked workers would be absorbed and reallocated internally.

“This has been a very difficult business decision, and one we’ve taken with great regret,” he said.

“Unfortunately, today’s business realities are that we have to manage our business appropriately and that includes making the FPV business the right size for the market and taking advantage of better synergies with Ford and Prodrive.”

Mears reassured that FPV was not facing extinction, insisting it was on track to deliver more vehicles this year than in 2011, and had some “very exciting new product” to reveal later in the year.

Today’s announcement comes six years after a similar high profile “restructure” at FPV, where the company’s then-managing director and five other high-ranking employees were sent packing without notice.

The news is the latest blow for Ford’s Australian manufacturing operations, whose own future remains in doubt beyond 2016. After delivering record low numbers of the Falcon – the locally made large car on which all FPVs are based – in 2011, sales have continued to plummet in 2012.

In the first four months of this year, Ford delivered 4407 Falcon sedans across the country, down 25.4 per cent on the same period in 2011, and just 1754 Falcon Utes, 17.3 per cent off last year’s pace.

The one shining light remains the Territory SUV, whose sales have increased 57.4 per cent year-to-date.




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