Will the Explorer Launch into Australia?
Ford Inside News
August 13, 2013
By: Austin Rutherford
Facing a decade of falling market share, Ford of Australia was faced with a difficult decision: Continue with the status quo or shut down local production on money-losing models including the Falcon and Territory. They choose the latter, profitable decision. One question still remained however, and that was where do they move from here. This was largely answered in today's "Go Further" press and dealer event held in Sydney, Australia. The future did not just pertain to Ford of Oz, but also that of Ford of New Zealand and the entire ASEAN area.
The first models shown were the previously announced for Oz Fiesta, Fiesta and Focus ST. The newly face-lifted Fiesta launches in Australia next month continuing importation from Thailand. Like the rest of the world, it will carry the 1.0L I3 EcoBoost engine. The Fiesta will also launch Sync Applink into the continent. Next the new Mondeo was shown. Unlike North America, Australia will receive the wagon variant from Valencia, Spain plant once it comes online next year.
Despite rumors that it would be shown at the "Go Further" event, Ford only showed a tease for the next Falcon. With production ending in 2016, the facelift will allow the Falcon to stay fresh in the market until it is killed off. The tease showed a Mondeo/Fusion-like grill with quad bulb headlights. A full unveiling of what will be the last generation Falcon should take place later this year. There was also no announcement on a direct successor to the Falcon at the event.
Next, after decades since importation stopped for direct-from-Ford models, Jim Farley announced the Mustang was returning to the continent in right-hand-drive. The fourth generation Mustang was imported to Australia, but was converted to RHD by a supplier. Though not a direct successor to the Falcon, the Mustang will probably serve as a spiritual successor to the sedan.
With the already successful Ranger as the backdrop, COO Mark Fields presented the next generation RWD full-size Transit and FWD mid-size Transit Custom. The current generation Transit is already on sale in Australia and an all-new model and Transit Custom should help sales from their current low volume pace. Both will likely be sourced from Turkey. During the commercial vehicle segment, the Falcon Ute was curiously never mentioned.
The during last segment, Ford of Australia's future lineup for perhaps the toughest segment to compete in Australia was showcased: utility vehicles. First, the current Ford Territory was shown first. This SUV will, like the Falcon, be killed off when local production ends in 2016 and this is where a prepared statement by Fields got interesting. The COO said, "Rest assured, the Territory competes in very important segment and we plan to continue to participate in this segment going forward." In other words, the Territory will have a direct successor when it is killed off. That likely means the next generation Explorer will be launched into Australia.
Of course, either name could be used.
After the Territory, the new Kuga was shown onto the stage. The Escape clone has already launched into Australia as imports from Spain have begun and is already outpacing the last generation Kuga in sales. As predicted, the Australian-designed Ford EcoSport will also launch into Australia and will also use the 1.0 I3 EcoBoost engine.
Lastly, Ford presented the third-generation Everest Concept as we have previously reported. The T6 Ranger based, near-production concept will launch globally starting next year. Though most of the world will receive it, the US and Canada will not. The 7 seater concept is pictured above.
What Ford truly wanted to get across with this presentation was that even though local production is ending, they are not giving up on Australia. Ford will keep engineering and design work in the country as well as giving charity to the community. Will the "Go Further" event work in changing attitudes and sales charts in Australia? Time will tell.