Frustrated Ford fans keen to buy a new F-150 pick-up, the reborn Bronco four-wheel-drive, or the pure electric Mustang Mach-E in Australia will need to be patient or consider another car.
Ford is no closer to introducing any of its latest iconic vehicles from the US – despite the runaway success of the Ram and Chevrolet pick-ups locally, the Bronco having strong Australian engineering involvement, and the Mustang Mach-E being built in right-hand-drive.
The lack of any light on the horizon for these models comes as figures show three out of every four vehicles sold by Ford Australia is based on one model.
The Ranger ute and Everest 4WD – which are largely twins under the skin, co-developed in Australia, and made on the same production line in Thailand – accounted for an overwhelming 78.8 per cent of new vehicles sold by Ford Australia last year, up from 73 per cent in 2019, 68.2 per cent in 2018, 60.5 per cent in 2017, and 49.9 per cent in 2016, the last year the Falcon was produced locally.
Even at its most recent peak in the 1990s, the Falcon did not dominate Ford Australia sales by as much as the Ranger and Everest do today.
In 1995, the last time the Falcon was Australia’s top-selling car, it accounted for 61 per cent of Ford sales locally.
In a media briefing this week, the boss of Ford Australia Andrew Birkic said: “We’re very proud of Ranger and Everest and … I believe we’ve got a really strong portfolio,” a reference to the new Puma and Escape SUVs and the Mustang sports car.
“I’m really happy with our line-up,” he said. “If you walk into a Ford showroom tomorrow you will see a comprehensive line-up of cars.”
When asked about the possibility of introducing the F-150, Bronco or Mustang Mach-E locally the boss of Ford Australia Andrew Birkic repeatedly told journalists: “Nothing to share”.
When asked about any desire for a right-hand-drive Ford F-150 locally Mr Birkic said: “We always review programs and vehicles around the (Ford) world. But we have nothing to share on that. There is no right hand drive (F-150).”
When asked about the possibility of a local conversion program for the F-150 – given the success of local Ram and Chevrolet operations out of the former Holden Special Vehicles facility in Melbourne – Mr Birkic said: “We are always surveying the market and the landscape and our competitors. We understand the market, we have open lines of communication with management (in Detroit),” before adding “nothing to share (about a possible local conversion operation).”
The Ford F-150 and Bronco have so far only been developed for left-hand-drive and, for now, the company has decided it would not be able to sell enough of these in Australia to justify the significant multi-million-dollar investment required to develop these vehicles for our market to be factory-built in right-hand-drive.
The electric Mustang Mach-E is available in right-hand-drive and already on sale in the UK – one of the world’s biggest right-hand-drive markets.
However, strong customer demand and production constraints – as well as strict emissions targets in Europe – mean Australia remains near the bottom of the list when it comes to prioritising the rollout of the Mach-E locally.