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Ford's Explorer ruled out for Oz

Ken Gratton
14 April 2011
www.carpoint.com.au

Why Aussie consumers won't see the latest generation of the US market Ford.

Here's what Australians want from SUVs: torque for towing, a balance of power and economy, a mix of comfort and safety.

It seems that actual offroad ability is lowly ranked on the scale of buying criteria. That's the supporting argument for Ford developing the diesel-engined Territory in both rear- and all-wheel drive forms. Towing is believed to be more important to Australians than ultimate bush-bashing credentials.

Beth Donovan, Ford Australia's VP of Marketing, Sales and Service, spoke with the Carsales Network during the launch of the new Territory. Is the Territory enough to meet all that the market demands of a medium SUV these days, we asked? What about bringing in the Explorer from the US, as Ford Australia did in the past -- to complement the local SUV range?

It's Donovan's view that "Explorer and Territory are different vehicles", but perhaps they're not different enough. The new-for-2011 Explorer is now built on a monocoque platform and its ground clearance (193mm) is closer to the Territory's than the 226mm clearance of earlier Explorer models sold here.

In effect, the Explorer -- still wearing the Ford badge, but without the Territory's excellent diesel or iconic petrol six -- would sink without trace in the pond that is the VFACTS medium SUV segment... or perhaps be swallowed whole by two other big fish in the pond, both Toyotas.

As it is, the locally-designed and manufactured Territory has what it takes to counter Toyota's two medium SUV models, the Kluger and the Prado, Donovan argues.

"I look at it this way: I think Territory can take them on, both -- and we've actually done a lot of work on that. Kluger is 100 per cent petrol and Prado is 20 per cent petrol and 80 per cent diesel."

Territory now offers what Ford judges to be the right balance of refinement and drivetrain technology to answer both Toyota SUVs in the marketplace. Donovan revealed that some of the market research conducted during the development of the new Territory involved current Prado owners.

"We've done a lot of research obviously, in the development of this vehicle," she said. "And the Prado customers that we've had in research, a lot of them have said 'I would definitely consider [the Territory]'."

It's been known since Ford introduced the original SX Territory in 2004 that roughly half the sales are rear-drive only.

"[In] The overall industry... many people will say: 'I only go offroad three or four times a year, but I still buy a 4x4'. The same thing's true for towing. People just want the capability..." Donovan further explained. "In this segment... they buy more than what they really need all the time."

According to Donovan, the 2011 Explorer has moved closer to the Territory concept as a consequence of Ford's platform rationalisation strategy, 'One Ford'. Minor variations on vehicle concepts -- such as the Territory-like Taurus X -- have been dropped altogether or conceptually merged with other similar vehicles.

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Ford to axe 240 jobs after Falcon slump

Andrew Heasley
14 April 2011
www.drive.com.au

In the latest blow to the local car making industry, Ford Australia is set to shed 240 factory workers’ jobs and cut production by 20 per cent to from 260 to 209 vehicles a day from July.

Ford Australia president Bob Graziano told The Age this morning a slump in demand for large cars had forced the decision.

‘‘There’s been moves into different types of vehicles, SUVs (the light-duty off-roaders) or smaller cars,’’ he said.

Unlike Holden and Toyota Australia, Ford Australia only makes large vehicles locally — the Falcon, Falcon ute and Territory — brutally exposing the enterprise to fuel price hikes and changing consumer tastes.

In the past decade, 107,000 fewer large cars are being bought by fleets and the general public a year, a sales decline of more than 50 per cent, he said.

‘‘There are customers who...made different choices for whatever reason,’’ Mr Graziano said. ‘‘It’s difficult to pinpoint one reason why people move to different types of vehicles.’’

Sales to government, corporate and rental-car fleets make up 65 to 70 per cent of Falcon sales.

‘‘Some of that could be buyer-policy related in companies, as they move to a lower carbon footprint,’’ he said.

It’s the biggest job-shedding exercise at Ford Australia since 2008, when it shed 800 jobs affecting the breadth of its operations.

The 240 jobs will be cut from July, and will bring Ford Australia’s manufacturing workforce from 1800 employees to 1560, and the total staff from 3400 to 3160.

‘‘We believe the actions we’re taking now will stabilise our [vehicle] volumes going forward,’’ Mr Graziano said.

The jobs of workers at both the Broadmeadows body factory and Geelong’s engine plant will be affected.

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I thought a heard the ford EDGE design was "based" on the territory and was the same size I prefer the looks of the territory + the NEW diesel sounds excellent to send to America
 

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The front end of the Territory is very atractive.... but the rest of the car looks like the extint TaurusX....

The news about the slow sales of the Falcon confirm that a rear wheel drive platform from Ford are not possible.
 

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I thought a heard the ford EDGE design was "based" on the territory and was the same size I prefer the looks of the territory + the NEW diesel sounds excellent to send to America
The Territory looks dated.

It has a new Kinetic design front grafted to an old body that already looked a bit old when it was new in 2004.

I prefer the styling of the Edge and the new Explorer.



PS: The new Explorer will be heading to the Philippines later this year.
 
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