The boss of Ford Asia Pacific says the company is on the verge of turning around a decade of spiralling sales in Australia.
Ford’s Australian sales have declined every year since peaking at 135,172 in 2004. They dropped to 87,236 last year and are down a further 6.2 per cent so far this year, tallying 67,924 to the end of October.
It leaves the blue oval brand in fifth position overall, well adrift of fourth-placed Hyundai (83,754), though with breathing space over sixth-placed Nissan (54,973).
Much of the company’s losses can be attributed to the performance of the ill-fated Falcon. In 2004, sales of the Falcon sedan, wagon, ute and long-wheelbase Fairlane and LTD models totalled 87,697. This year, combined sales of the Falcon sedan and ute (the only ones remaining) will be lucky to break 10,000 units.
But there are other concerns in Ford Australia’s line-up beyond the Falcon. Fiesta sales are down 22.7 per cent this year (5623) and the Focus is similarly 21.0 per cent off last year’s pace (13,027).
Its SUVs are also struggling. The Territory is down 27.6 per cent (8366); the EcoSport has failed to fire, averaging just 174 sales per month this year (1740); and the Kuga, while up 60.0 per cent for the year at 4901 (though this is a little misleading given the new model only went on sale in April 2013), was down 4.7 per cent last month compared with October 2013.
The Ranger has been the shining light for Ford Australia this year. Now easily the brand’s most popular nameplate, Ranger 4×2 sales have grown 30.1 per cent this year (5126) while 4×4 sales are also up 23.0 per cent (17,413).
Ford Asia Pacific president David Schoch is confident that despite suffering 10 years of losses the Australian division is not far from posting a positive showroom result.
“It’s coming as we launch more products in this market,” Schoch said, though he declined to put a timeline on when the positive result would come.
“We’re in a transition period right now, so watch this space, but I’m really confident with the products we’re bringing in from our global product portfolio that you’re going to see a turnaround.”
In addition to the updated Falcon and Territory that arrive next month, Ford Australia will refresh three core models over the next six months, launching an updated Kuga (also in December), all-new Mondeo (February), and facelifted versions of the Focus ST (March) and regular Focus range (Q2).
Beyond that, Schoch denied the local division would place a particular emphasis on bringing in additional European models like rival Holden, suggesting the likes of the B-Max, C-Max and S-Max (above) MPVs and people-movers and Focus wagon remain unlikely to find their way to our shores in the near future. The Canadian-built Edge is expected to expand the brand’s SUV line-up in either 2016 or 2017, however.
He also said that Ford was “ready to go” with electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in models in Australia but would not pull the trigger until it saw sufficient demand from the market.
“We are constantly looking at customer demand, and when there’s enough demand there we have the technology, we have electric vehicles, we have plug-in hybrids, regular hybrids. We can bring them in, but there hasn’t been a market pull sufficient enough to bring in those vehicles, but when I do see it, we’re ready to go.”
Schoch said he had no indication of when Ford would launch its first alternative energy vehicles in Australia.
“It’s a guessing game right now – the customer hasn’t decided what they want yet.
“We’ve got the EcoBoost engines, we’ve got diesel engines, we’ve got plug-in hybrids, regular hybrids, the pure battery… We’re ready to go, but the customer needs to vote.”
Ford sells the Focus EV, Mondeo/Fusion Hybrid and Energi plug-in (above), and C-Max Hybrid and Energi plug-in models in the US and other overseas markets.