Speaking with the Australian automotive media in Melbourne today, FPV managing director Bryan Mears said “the appeal and popularity of these (Falcon-based) cars continues and while we don’t release exact numbers, I can tell you that our sales have remained steady and in the current market we remain realistic when setting our targets”.
“I understand the commentary in relation to sedans, big sedans in Australia and where they are heading, (but) I am pretty certain where our 425 vehicles are heading at the moment,” Mears said.
FPV, which recently sacked its general manager and a number of support staff as part of a company restructure back in May, is reliant on Ford’s production of the Falcon as well as customer demand for its large sedan and ute muscle cars. Nonetheless, it’s certain of its future prospects.
“There’s still a place for the performance car in this country, Australians love their performance cars, they love to drive something different. There’s enormous market sector, certainly big enough for our business. They’ll always chose a performance car given a choice and that is who we build our cars for.”
Justifying the recent staff cuts, Mears admitted that it was required to keep FPV viable for the future.
“Like many businesses in the Australian automotive industry, we’ve had to make changes to our business structure and the recent restructure at the end of May was all about making our business the right size for our current market. Allowing us to continue to do what we do best. I think you would anticipate those sorts of things happening. The changes that I announced back in May are the sort of reactions you would expect in a toughening market. “
The company, which is 51 per cent owned by Prodrive and 49 per cent by Ford Australia, has never released exact sales figures but puts the number at around 1800 vehicles per year. Eighty-one per cent of the vehicles it sells are sedans, 74 per cent are automatics and 80 per cent are V8s. FPV manages to attract a predominantly male audience (90 per cent) who go for leather interiors 79 per cent of the time but only 17 per cent tick the box for the premium Brembo brake package.
Mears said he “couldn’t be happier” with the current rate of sales but dismissed questions about FPV’s plans post 2016, when Ford is widely expected to stop producing the Falcon in Australia.
“That’s talking about way into the future for me. We are planning for the future. To be honest, we never talk about what we are doing, what we are planning to do. That’s part of our resolve to protect our planning.”
When asked by CarAdvice if the company has internal plans already drawn up for 2016 and beyond, Mears responded by saying the GT RSPEC took 18 months to conceive and produce, hinting at the company's forward thinking strategy timeline.
He also believes the FPV GT RSPEC would have great potential for overseas markets but it’s limited by its lack of left-hand-drive capability. He admitted that it would cost somewhere around $80 million for the left-hand drive conversion and about three years to accomplish.
“The reality is the engine and the car is saleable in any market that is right-hand drive. It’s a nice thought to think about (left-hand drive overseas markets) but it isn’t going to happen."
FPV spent a few million dollars to produce the GT RSPEC over an 18-month period, which took engineers all the way to Europe for testing. The company believes there’s nothing in the market for the $76,990 that can approach its GT R spec’s performance credentials.