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2011 a ‘game changer’ for Ford: Graziano

Turbo charge: The Territory Turbo might be a fading memory, but a new turbo-diesel engine is expected to reverse the Territory’s fortunes in Australia.

Ford Australia chief remains upbeat for Territory and Falcon, despite sales pressure

8 Feb 2011

FORD Australia’s 2011 fightback starts with the revitalised Territory, but will not end until the Blue Oval has launched all-new Ranger and Focus models in the third quarter of this year and LPI six-cylinder and EcoBoost four-cylinder versions of a facelifted Falcon by year’s end.

Together, the Territory facelift and Falcon upgrades represent a $232 million spend on Ford’s Australia’s large vehicle platform, which Ford hopes will keep both models – which have struggled on the sales charts – fresh well into the middle of this decade.

The comprehensive midlife makeover for Ford’s Australian-designed SUV was revealed this afternoon in Sydney, a month before the engineering story – including full details of the Territory’s first ever diesel powertrain – is revealed in Melbourne on March 8 and the model goes on sale in late April.

Newly appointed Ford Australia president and CEO Robert Graziano would not comment on the long-term futures of either homegrown model in his first media appearance, but said 2011 would be a watershed year for his company, which would leverage the One Ford global technology sharing strategy for the first time.

“This is the start of a very busy year for Ford in Australia,” he said. “This really is the first instalment of a $232 million investment that we’re making in this platform.

“Later this year we’re going to talk to you about LPI, we’re going to talk to you about freshening of the Falcon and we’re also going to talk to you about EcoBoost.

“Ford is going to introduce the first dedicated LPI system technology in Australia and then (Falcon) EcoBoost will be the first rear-wheel drive sedan application of that technology.

“These are just a couple of examples of how Ford in Australia is benefiting from our One Ford global strategy.

“We’re leveraging our engineering resources, our innovations and advances, making new global technologies affordable to our customers in Australia. We’re striving to produce vehicles that are class leaders in quality, sustainability, safety and smart technologies.

27 center imageFrom top: Ford Falcon, upcoming Ford Ranger and Ford Figo.

“We really believe that this is the strategy that will allow customers to feel the difference.”

Mr Graziano said One Ford would be a two-way street for Ford Australia, which designed and engineered the next-generation Ranger utility for global consumption, is developing an SUV wagon derivative from the same locally developed truck chassis, engineered Ford’s Figo city car for India and is rumoured to also be developing a small car for China.

“Ford Australia is making tremendous contributions to the global One Ford world as well,” he said.

“We’re leveraging our expertise here in engineering and design. We leveraged those for our global Ranger program you’ll see the result of later this year, as well as the Ford Figo, which won the 2010 car of the year award in India.

“One Ford enables Ford Australia to bring in new vehicles and technologies, and we’ll be updating nearly 85 per cent of our showrooms with new global technologies – Ford technologies that are a first for Australia.

“2011 is where the game changes for Ford in Australia.”

Formerly the Ford Motor Company’s chief executive in China, Mr Graziano would not comment on export possibilities for Ford Australia in the world’s most populous nation, where ex-Ford Australia president Marin Burela is now based.

However, Falcon and Territory engineering director Russell Christophers told GoAuto the arrangement “can’t hurt” Ford Australia in terms of export opportunities, which he described as “possible”.

Mr Graziano said the upcoming TDCi V6 turbo-diesel engine would reverse the Territory’s fortunes in Australia’s growing medium SUV market segment, 40 per cent of which is currently diesel-powered.

He said Ford expects the Territory to return to dominance in a segment that has more entrants than ever and will soon be joined by Holden’s upgraded Captiva, which follows the release of Toyota’s facelifted Kluger – the only mainstream contender not to offer diesel power.

Ford expects half of the fresh Territory’s sales to be diesel models.

“There’s no better way to start a new year than with the launch of a new Territory,” said Mr Graziano.

“In 2004 Territory redefined the medium SUV segment. It’s the only Australian-designed and engineered SUV. It’s built by Australians for Australia.

“Territory has evolved over the years with refreshes and updates and we believe it is now ready to take on a more competitive market.

“Many people thought the new Territory would only involve the introduction of a diesel engine, but that’s just one part of a much bigger story. Our new Territory has a new interior, exterior, new technologies and an all-new series – Titanium.

“We’ve listen and engaged with our customers and dealers on Territory and we believe this will reenergise the Territory and maintain its place as the leader in the medium SUV segment.”

Territory sales were static in January at 673, while 11,558 sales in 2010 represented a 6.2 per cent increase on 2009 figures, as well as about half the sales volume the Territory achieved in 2005 – its first full year of sales.

Last year the six-year-old Territory snared a 13.8 per cent share of the medium SUV segment – down from 15.1 per cent in 2009 and 32.6 per cent in 2005.

As GoAuto has reported, the Falcon suffered what is believed to be its lowest-ever monthly sales result in January, falling 50 per cent (compared with the corresponding month last year) to a record low of just 1157 sales.

Falcon also experienced a 29.5 per cent fall in December – down to 1939 units – to finish the year down 4.9 per cent and below 30,000 units in total, despite the overall Australian new-vehicle market returning to form with a million-plus sales.

What's coming fromFord:
Falcon LPIMid Year
MkIII FocusEarly Q3
MkII RangerLate Q3
Falcon FaceliftQ4
Falcon EcoBoostQ4

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