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by Tim Beissmann

The refreshed Ford Falcon FG X has failed to fire in its first full month on sale, slumping to the worst monthly sales performance in the 55-year-old nameplate’s history.

Ford sold just 381 Falcon sedans across Australia in January, down 17.4 per cent compared with the same month in 2014, and down on humble results in October and November (396 and 411, respectively) when the Falcon FG Mk2 was deep in runout.

Disturbingly for Ford, the Falcon’s January total was more than 300 units fewer than the equivalent sales performance of the Mitsubishi 380 – the last Australian-made large sedan to disappear from our market – in the first month of its final year on sale (692 in January 2008).

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Despite the dire numbers, Ford Australia public affairs director Wes Sherwood says the company is “very pleased” with the performance of the Falcon FG X, and says its plan to forge on with local production until next year remains “on track”.

“We’re very pleased with how the new model is performing, particularly at the retail [level], and that’s what we’re really going to focus on, really driving those retail Falcon and Territory sales. The feedback we’re getting on the new Falcon is very good,” Sherwood said.

“We’re on track with our [production] plan. No updates there. We’re basically two years into that plan so we’re making a lot of progress.”

Sherwood says Ford Australia’s shift away from a heavy fleet reliance will hurt its sales numbers in the short term but will prove to be a much healthier business model moving forward.

“We’re transforming our business, we’re restructuring the way we go to market, and that’s an emphasis on retail sales. As we continue to do that, certainly you give up some of the higher-volume, less-profitable sales and your numbers don’t make headlines, but our focus really is on the retail customer and getting to a point where we create a sustainable business over time.

“It’s not going to always look pretty in the sales numbers but we are absolutely shifting to that model.”

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All of the Blue Oval’s locally made vehicles suffered in January, with the Falcon Ute falling even further, down 31.2 per cent to just 163 units, and the Territory slipping 6.2 per cent to 639.

January is historically a slow month for traditional fleet favourites like the Falcon. Holden Commodore sales were also down 24.5 per cent to 1784, while the Toyota Camry, though up 12.5 per cent, managed just 1133 sales. (Read CarAdvice’s comprehensive January sales wrap here.)

Ford’s sales plummeted across the board last month, down 21.3 per cent to 5357 in a market that was down just 0.2 per cent overall. Its market share has fallen from 8.3 per cent in January 2014 to 6.5 per cent this year.

Fiesta (579, down 39.9 per cent), Focus (1158, down 44.2 per cent) and Kuga (282, down 43.1 per cent) made particularly poor starts to 2015 and must be concerns at Ford Australia HQ in Broadmeadows.

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The Ranger 4×4 remains the shining light. Its sales spiked 18.2 per cent last month to 1470, trailing the once-untouchable Toyota HiLux 4×4 by fewer than 180 units.

The results come a little more than two months after Ford Asia Pacific president David Schoch said he was confident the company was on the verge of turning around a decade of spiralling sales in Australia.

Ford’s Australian sales have declined every year since 2004 when they hit 135,172, dropping to 79,703 last year.




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