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Ford confirms Edge for Aus

E for Equator: Ford has submitted paperwork to trademark-protect the name Equator in a move that seems to open the door for an SUV of that name in Australia.

2018 arrival of Edge leaves one-year gap in Ford's large-SUV portfolio


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3 Aug 2016

FORD has confirmed that the Edge will replace the Territory once Australian manufacturing comes to an end in October, but by the time the imported model arrives at a point in 2018, a large SUV will have been missing from the Blue Oval’s local line-up for about a year.

The second-generation Edge has been on sale in the United States since early 2015, with right-hand-drive versions recently rolling out in the United Kingdom, but Australia will not get the critical model until “about a year after we finish selling the Territorys”, according to Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman this week.

“That entity will be the globally designed Ford Edge,” he said. “That’s now confirmed it will be coming into the Australian market.

“It will arrive in the market about a year post when we see the last Territorys so it will be in 2018.”

It is unclear why the gap between the end of the Territory and the arrival of the Edge has been scheduled, but Mr Whickman explained the decision was based on a number of complex variables including the constraints of a global company and preparing the ground locally.

“It will be about a year after we finish selling the Territorys and for us that was the best, most opportune time to procure the vehicle and launch it into the market,” he said.

“We’re part of a big global entity and therefore there are a lot of challenges in terms of where we source vehicles from, how we tool-up and all manner of different things. With all that considered, this was the best time for us to launch the product.”

The latest version of the Edge was unveiled in mid-2014 and, if the model follows typical lifecycles, it will be due for a mid-life update soon after the final Territorys have found homes. As such, Ford may be holding out for the refreshed version.

Another possibility for the delay is that a seven-seat Canadian-built version is in the pipeline and Ford Australia is holding out for the three-row version to do battle with other more flexible large SUVs in the segment.

As previously reported, seven-seat versions have been spotted testing in Australia, where Ford Asia Pacific engineers have been working on Edge development “mules”, including some examples from Chinese sister company Changan Ford.

When asked, Mr Whickman did not rule out that the delay was in anticipation of a seven-seat Edge but reiterated that the finalised timing was “opportune”.

“No, I’m not here to tell you that. I’m here to tell you that, other than confirming that the vehicle is coming as an all-new SUV, based on the Ford global Edge, the opportune time is to ensure we’ve got a vehicle that we are happy with in the market, that is tailored to the market and one that has broad appeal to the Australian consumer demands.”

Canadian-built UK and US versions are currently only offered in five-seat configurations and, while a seven-seat version is produced in China, Mr Whickman said the Australian-spec model is more likely to be sourced from Canada.

“We’re not confirming the manufacturing source at this point,” he said. “We have a view of where it will be coming from but we will confirm that a little closer.

“As it stands at the moment I would suggest it’s not coming from China.”

No detail regarding basic local specification was revealed at the announcement and Mr Whickman said the company was still digesting the possibilities for the Australian market.

“We’re in an early stage, we’re not going to talk in any level of specificity today, we’re just going to confirm that the vehicle is coming to Australian shores,” he said.

As GoAuto has previously reported, Toyota owns the rights to the Edge trademark for a vehicle in Australia, which could force Ford to opt for a different name or retain the Territory moniker, but Mr Whickman indicated that his preference would be to align with global markets.

“We’re working through nomenclature at the moment. We haven’t made that decision yet,” he said.

“Personally, I work for a global entity and part of that is having global products, so my preference always would be to honour the globalness of our organisation.”

When Ford announced that a model would replace the Territory after local production ceased, the retention of the Territory name was believed to be the most likely outcome, but Mr Whickman explained that the situation had changed since 2013.

“When we first spoke to you back in 2013 we used the words Territory replacement and that’s changed,” he said.

“There are a lot of different vehicles that have the potential to replace a Territory customer’s requirements. There’s a lot more flavours in the showroom that can accommodate somebody who is after a Territory-type vehicle,” he said.

“This is not a Territory ‘replacement’. This is an all-new SUV that’s catering for a proliferating set of customer demands and needs. I think we will continue to do pretty well in the SUV (segment) and this will be added to that.”

While the Territory has been a strong contender in previous years, Mr Whickman predicted that sales would probably round out 2016 tallying 7000, but a year without a Territory or replacement will doubtless impact the Blue Oval’s bottom line for 2017.

Mr Whickman said the company was aware of the implications of not offering a model in the segment and explained that a year of sales figures was not the only gauge of Ford’s longer-term progress.

“I’ve said in the past around sales and whether they are a barometer of a successful company and that’s one measure,” he said.

“We will continue to progress ... I think that as our showroom continues to grow we will be offering more and more to consumers and I fully expect us to capitalise on that showroom.”

During the media event, Ford also announced that it would expand its SUV offerings further with a five-seat version of the locally developed Everest locked in for Australia in early 2017, around the same time as the facelifted mid-size Kuga arrives.

The car-maker also confirmed it would offer a number of special vehicle packages for all of its SUV offerings, starting with the ‘Shadow’ pack for the EcoSport crossover that arrives this month.

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