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Territory conquers Thailand

Uncharted Territory: Ford's medium SUV will head to Thailand in seven-seat AWD guise as a "toe in the water" exercise.

Ford finds another keen export market for its popular Territory - this time Thailand

21 Mar 2006

FORD has revealed a new export market for its mid-sized Territory SUV. Thailand is the big Ford’s latest destination, with around 80 slated for sale this year. Next year the company expects about 120 units will find new homes there.

This will make Thailand just the third export market in the world for Territory, after New Zealand and South Africa. The non-availability of left-hand drive limits the Territory’s export appeal.

The announcement was made this week after weeks of widespread speculation about a possible introduction in Thailand.

It follows the SY Territory’s appearance at the Thailand International Motor Expo in December last year, where – according to Ford – its public reception was "...enthusiastic, with great feedback about the combination of SUV versatility and car-like dynamics." Nevertheless, Ford Australia president Tom Gorman has been cautious with the announcement, stating that the Territory export program should be viewed as a ‘toe-in-the-water’ exercise.

"It is very, very small volume," he told GoAuto, adding that Ford Australia is "...just testing the market" for the time being.

Ford in Thailand will pitch the vehicle in luxury Ghia AWD (all-wheel drive) guise, electing to forego the rear-drive versions that account for just over half of all Territory sales in Australia.

When it goes on sale in May it will feature seven seats, Hill Descent Control, an alloy spare wheel and front and rear tow eyes.

Like all current Australian Territory AWDs, the Thai model will be powered by a 190kW/383Nm 4.0-litre, twin-cam, 24-valve, in-line six-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.

The Territory will top Ford Thailand’s three-pronged SUV line-up, which begins with the Escape compact SUV.

Sitting above that is a 1998-2006 Mazda B-Series/Ford Courier light truck-based SUV called the Everest.

It uses separate chassis construction underneath a four-door wagon body that seats up to seven, offers 4x2 or 4x4 capability and is powered by an 82kW/270Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.

Ford says that adding Thailand to the export mix will boost its Australian operations’ profitability as well as result in an incremental sales increase for the Territory.

"Australian motor vehicle expertise is being recognised around the world and the export of Ford Territory to Thailand is testament to the quality of cars we are building here," Mr Gorman says.

Around 40,000 Territory models have been sold in Australia since its June 2004 release.

Last year Ford sold 2300 Territory vehicles in South Africa – where it was launched in July 2005 – while 7900 found homes in New Zealand.

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