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Ford  Market share: Ford Australia's Bruce McDonald and the Territory.

Market share: Ford Australia's Bruce McDonald and the Territory.

Ford strategy bears fruit as small cars and cross-overs claw in large car market

THE cross-overs have crossed over for the first time to lead the Australian new vehicle sales market in May.

Figures compiled by Ford Australia confirm that the four combined SUV segments outsold both large cars and small cars to lead the market in May.

That result is in line with long-term forecasting Ford used as a basis for its decision to invest $500 million in developing the locally-built Territory SUV, which has just gone on sale.

But the margin of victory was tight with the compact, medium, large and luxury SUVs claiming 24.6 per cent of the market, while large cars and small cars were both on 23.1 per cent.

In terms of actual sales that meant there were 15,052 SUVs sold, 14,159 large cars and 14,136 small cars.

But year-to-date, Large cars continues to be the biggest individual market, albeit narrowly ahead of Small cars – 71,329 to 71,211 while there have been 67,564 SUVs sold.

In percentage terms that comes out at 23.8, 23.7 and 22.5 per cent YTD respectively.

Ironically, the 1046 Territorys registered in May played a crucial role in the historic VFACTS result.


From this time on Ford predicts SUV, Large and Small to be the three dominant segments

In fact the growth in SUVs is coming from Medium, where Territory is placed in both all-wheel and rear-wheel drive form, and the Luxury segments.

From this time on Ford predicts SUV, Large and Small to be the three dominant segments, splitting three-quarters of the market pretty evenly between them.

It does not expect the SUV chart to continue to climb dramatically, although it has increased its share from 9 per cent 10 years ago. Small cars have also climbed from 16.8 per cent, while Large has fallen from 36.1 per cent.

"Our forecasting indicates that what we see in 2004 is going to an ongoing trend, as in those three segments basically being equally important, plus or minus a percentage point or two," said Ford Australia market and sales vice-president Bruce McDonald.

Mr McDonald argued that a continual slide in Large car market share over the past decade would be halted because of Ford and Holden’s substantial commitment to the category.

"I don’t think those competitors are going to literally sit back and see the demise of the Large segment, so it will be a product-supported maintenance," he said.

"The reason they are off in my view is that there is a segment called the SUV which is now an appealing alternative. When you looked back in the not too distant past it wasn’t anywhere near as strong," Mr McDonald said.

"The SUV market has become that much more visible and there is just that much more choice for people, whether private buyers or fleets.

"People are recognising there is an alternate way of transporting their families that wasn’t available to the extent that the choice now exists back in the mid-’90s."

Mr McDonald said there was anecdotal evidence that some potential buyers had held off their large car purchase until they had a chance to look at Territory.

"We have heard from dealers they are reporting a high interest – and I can’t tell you exactly what that means – from people driving non-Ford vehicles. They are talking Jeep Cherokee, they are talking Subarus, some small numbers of Mercedes-Benz ML320 and X5," he said.

"There appears to be a high interest and curiousity level in Territory from people who don’t drive Ford vehicles."

The 1046 Territory registrations in May were made up of 50 per cent dealer demos, pre-production vehicles and Ford company cars, with the other 50 per cent customer deliveries.



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