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Ford Territorys roll out to Thailand

On a boat: Ford Australia has sent 100 Territory SUVs to Thailand, with an eye to exporting more in the future.

100 Aussie Territorys shipped to Thailand as Ford Australia tests export waters

17 Aug 2012

FORD Australia has embarked on a crucial export deal, sending 100 examples of its locally built and designed Territory SUV to Thailand this week.

The vehicles – all flagship all-wheel-drive Titanium diesel variants – set sail from Melbourne’s Webb Dock earlier this week as a toe-in-the-water exercise for Ford Australia, which will seek to gauge public interest with an eye towards more substantial export deals down the track.

The deal comes seven years after Ford Australia last sent its popular SUV to the bustling South-East Asian nation, with a small number of first-generation models exported in 2005.

The decision to export the Territory results from a strong reception Ford Thailand received when it displayed a Titanium variant at the Bangkok motor show in March this year.

The Thai export deal is a slight reversal of a familiar flow for Ford Australia, with a growing number of vehicles including the Fiesta, Focus and Ranger – plus the forthcoming EcoSport and Escape SUVs – all sourced from Thailand.

This trend is not limited to Ford, with Thailand the third-largest source of vehicles for the Australian new vehicle market, even outstripping locally manufactured vehicles.

To the end of July, 84,508 Thai-made vehicles were sold here, behind Japan (234,429) and Korea (84,724), but ahead of Australia (79,433).

Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano said the small-scale export deal was an important step for the car-maker, which has experienced a marked decline in sales of its locally made Falcon range in recent years.

“This is an exciting day for everyone here at Ford Australia,” he said.

“This is a small but important deal and will provide an important base on which to potentially build further exports.

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“Building on the success of the Territory in Australia and New Zealand, we expect the Territory Titanium model to do well in Thailand. It’s clear Thai customers want the roominess of a seven-seater and the features available in the Territory Titanium.”

Ford Australia brand communications manager Neil McDonald told GoAuto that, while the company was closely monitoring this latest export deal, there were currently no plans to expand the program to other Asian markets such as Indonesia or Malaysia.

Thailand is the second export market for Territory after New Zealand, with more than 12,000 examples sent across the Tasman Sea since 2004.

The Thai-market Territory is powered by the European-sourced 2.7-litre TDCi V6 turbo-diesel engine, which will attract less tax than the Australian-made 4.0-litre petrol straight six.

Thailand imposes a 60 per cent registration penalty on cars with engines over 3.0 litres in capacity, reduced to 50 per cent for engines over 2.0 litres.

Confirmation of the export deal is welcome news for Ford Australia, which last month announced it would cut vehicle production at its manufacturing plant in Broadmeadows by almost 30 per cent from November, in response to continuing poor sales of its Falcon stalwart.

The company also announced 440 job cuts at the Broadmeadows and Geelong plants – almost 25 per cent of the total workforce.

The reduction in daily vehicle production – from 209 units to 148 – means Territory production will account for almost half of total vehicles running off the production line.

Territory sales have been a bright spot for the Blue Oval in Australia, growing by 35.2 per cent this year, mostly on the back of the well-received diesel added to the range as part of a substantial facelift in April last year.

The Falcon-based Territory is one of Australia’s biggest-selling SUVs, with 8779 units sold to the end of July, placing it ahead of key rivals such as the Toyota Kluger and Holden Captiva 7.

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