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Ford F-Series not on local radar

Monster truck: The thirteenth-generation F-Series was officially unveiled at the Detroit motor show in January this year.

Revolutionary new F-Series no chance for Ford Australia return

16 May 2014

FORD Australia may be kicking big goals in the light commercial market with its strong-selling Ranger, but it has no plans on branching out and offering the larger US-market F-Series any time.

The company’s local arm imported ex-factory F-Series utes to Australia with right-hand-drive conversions between 2001 and 2007, and while it enjoyed moderate sales success, the exercise was deemed too expensive to repeat.

The full-sized F-150 has been the top-selling truck in America for the past 37 years and the number-one selling vehicle overall in its home market for the past 32 years.

The Blue Oval ripped the covers off a revolutionary aluminium-bodied, thirteenth-generation version at this year's Detroit motor show, revealing a design that was influenced by the chunky Atlas concept from the previous year’s event.

But while this new version comes with a range of more efficient turbo engines and a revolutionary build process, Ford Australia is steering clear.

“We would never say never, but Ranger is our representative pick-up utility vehicle in this market and we are very strong with that and that’s where we are at the moment,” Ford Australia brand communications manager Neil McDonald told GoAuto this week.

“We did have F-Series here in Australia. It was converted in right-hand drive ex factory out of Brazil. It was a very expensive proposition. What we have now is Ranger. That is our car.”

The latest iteration of the iconic pick-up goes on sale in the United States later this year with a reduced weight compared with the current model thanks to the use of “military grade” aluminium and other light-weight materials as well as a suite of new safety technology.

Body-styles include regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew while a number of petrol engine choices will be available in Ford's home market including a 5.0-litre V8, a 3.5 EcoBoost V6 and a 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6 with idle-stop.

While the Ranger will remain Ford Australia's core utility offering alongside the Falcon ute which will continue until the company shuts its local manufacturing operation in 2016, there is room for expansion within the company's light-commercial van line-up.

Ford launched the latest-generation Transit Custom van in February this year which the company says has been “well received”, but there are a number of other body-styles and variants available in other markets that Ford can choose from, should it see demand for them.

The Volkswagen Caddy-sized Transit Connect, the larger Fiat Ducato-sized Transit and tiny Transit Courier are all available in Europe, and some of the key players in the commercial van segment in Australia including Renault, Fiat and Volkswagen all offer multiple variants and body-styles.

Ford Australia product marketer Michael Risby would not say whether the Blue Oval was looking at expanding the range in the short to medium term but said that customer demand would certainly help determine the range.

“We are taking the feedback from customer and going to our global portfolio and seeing what we can deliver. As we launch the vehicle, we get the feedback on what our customers and dealers are telling us. If need we can look at introducing other variants and other features to make sure we are staying competitive.

“We are always listening to customer feedback, which is one of the reasons we expanded the Ranger line-up from the launch model line-up to what it is now.”

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