Make / Model Search

News - Ford - Escape

Ford Australia to discontinue Escape SUV

Slow sales force Ford’s hand as it leaves popular segment to the competition

18 Apr 2023

FORD AUSTRALIA will discontinue sales of its Escape medium SUV by the end of this year, the company’s regional head making the surprise announcement at a presentation to outline its electrification rollout strategy late last week.


Ironically, the Ford Escape PHEV (plug-in hybrid) was launched last year as the company’s first electrified offering in Australia, it was expected to be a permanent addition that would finally give the Blue Oval some showroom pull to counter Toyota and its hugely popular RAV4 Hybrid.


However, that’s not going to be the case – for both the PHEV and the rest of the Escape range.


“What you won’t see here is Escape,” said Ford Australia president and CEO Andrew Birkic.


“The Escape nameplate will be leaving Australia by the end of the year – that’s for the PHEV, and also the ICE (internal combustion engine variants). We don’t make these nameplate decisions lightly; it goes through a very rigorous process with multiple factors that go into making those decisions – but we believe now is the right time.”


Speaking to GoAuto, Mr Birkic said it made more commercial sense for Ford Australia to focus on its strong suits, the Ranger and its large SUV twin the Everest, than to try and keep up with the dominant players in the ultra-competitive and crowded mid-size SUV segment.


“We’ve come to the conclusion that that Escape is an ongoing investment that we won’t be making. If you look towards the portfolio, we’ve got to make decisions that are good for Ford Motor Company, that play to our strengths,” he said.


“Commercially, that’s Ranger, Everest, Transit, so we’ll make business decisions that support our portfolio where we know that we can do well.”


Cutting the Escape will trim Ford’s local SUV line-up to just two models – the Everest and Puma.


The Puma will gain an all-electric powertrain before the end of 2024, however, with the three-row Endura having been cut back in 2020, and the Escape now not long for this world (in Australia at least), there is a lot of airspace between the hulking body-on-frame Everest and the petite Puma given Ford also never offered a proper small SUV (the Focus Active was more of a crossover than a true SUV, and the Focus is long gone anyway).


The medium SUV segment alone accounted for 20 per cent of all vehicle sales in 2022, making it the biggest single vehicle class in the country. The light SUV and large SUV segments, where the Puma and Everest respectively sit, together account for 17.8 percent of the total mix.


The Everest does indeed perform well. Over 2022 Ford delivered 10,314 Everests, finishing the year just below the Isuzu MU-X and not far off the Toyota Kluger – though the Toyota LandCruiser Prado outsold Everest by a ratio of 2:1.


The Puma, on the other hand, is a relative minnow in its segment with a 2022 monthly sales average of just 200 cars putting it well behind rivals like the Mazda CX-3, Hyundai Venue and Kia Stonic. Even the Volkswagen T-Cross achieved twice the Puma’s volume, but the sad fact is that even the Puma managed to outsell the Escape.


In that context, it is perhaps no great surprise that the Escape is being culled – though it seems like a cruelly short life for the Escape PHEV, which could have been in a good position to conquest at least a few hundred would-be RAV4 Hybrid customers who were fed up with Toyota’s waiting list.


What is a surprise, though, is that it appears Ford Australia is in no hurry to plug the small/medium SUV gap in its showroom after the Escape, erm, escapes.


Asked if the global portfolio could provide some options for Ford Australia to bulk up its own line-up, Mr Birkic said that at this point there were few that suited the company’s business case – beyond the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 XLT/Lariat that have already been announced.


“We’ve made some decisions there: we’re not getting the Explorer that’s been launched in Europe, for example. We look at all those opportunities – that’s the great thing about working for a global company is that we have the opportunities to take a look and make decisions, and on this one we’ve made a decision not to go with it,” Mr Birkic told GoAuto.


The Europe-market Explorer is a fundamentally different vehicle to the large US-market Explorer, being built atop Volkswagen’s MEB all-electric architecture and sharing much of its under-the-skin component set with the Volkswagen ID.4.


Measuring 4450mm long, the battery-electric European Explorer is considerably smaller than the US Explorer, being positioned more as a BYD Atto 3-sized offering and could have provided Ford Australia with something future-leaning to sit between the Puma EV and Mustang Mach-E – were it not deemed unsuitable for a local introduction.

Read more

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Ford articles

Escape pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here