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Mustang bucks sportscar trend

Voodoo magic: Ford’s mental Shelby GT350 Mustang will not make it to Australia but other special editions are likely to bring more power and street presence as the pony car range matures Down Under.

Sustained demand for Ford Mustang strengthens business case for special editions

Ford logo15 Jul 2016

AUSTRALIA’S unprecedented hunger for Ford’s first right-hand drive Mustang is breaking the traditional model for sportscar sales, and the sustained demand is increasing Ford Australia’s influence on what comes next.

A majority of high-performance and sportscar models experience a spike in sales immediately after launch before levelling off to a lower background rate, but the Mustang is bucking the trend with customers continuing to walk into showrooms six months after the pony car arrived.

The Blue Oval secured an extra 2000 cars in addition to the initial run of 4000 2016 Mustangs that sold before the model had even launched on red dirt, but despite the reinforcement troops, the waiting list continues to grow long into 2018.

Speaking at the local launch of the Focus RS, Ford Motor Company of Australia communications and public affairs director Wes Sherwood told GoAuto that Ford’s top management in the United States was so impressed with the reception of the Mustang Down Under that the Australian team had been given greater influence in deciding what Australia will be offered next.

“We’ve now got the global team’s attention,” he said. “We’ve exceeded demand by so far, we now have a bigger voice as to what is coming down the pipe.”

Mr Sherwood explained that local popularity of the model had been helped by its appeal in native US markets and the ability to supply large numbers, and the demand was not showing signs of slowing as it typically does with other sportscars.

“Because Mustang in the US has had a mainstream appeal, it’s allowed us to be at volumes that make mainstream production viable over time.

“We didn’t know what the initial demand would be – we found out that answer pretty quickly, and now we are starting to see we might have some sustained mainstream appeal.

“That’s the next phase of the launch that we’re keeping our eye on.”

Quite what that next phase will be is still firmly under Ford’s hat, but it is likely the Mustang will follow a similar evolution Down Under as it has in the US for 50 years and a steady roll-out of special editions.

Mr Sherwood confirmed that the local Ford team was carefully studying the recipe for success in north America and it would be using its greater influence in future products to steer the next variants.

“What we do know from its main market in North America for 50 years, what has helped Mustang sustain over time is something fresh every year or so. Something exciting. We’ve taken notice of that now that we’ve got some really solid demand.”

If the same lifecycle is adopted, Australia could see its first specials in early 2017 and variants similar to the previous GT500 and Boss versions that Americans have snapped up.

Unfortunately, there are no plans to send the manic Voodoo-powered Shelby GT350 variants of the Mustang to Australia, and Mr Sherwood pointed out that not everything that is made available to the US market would be a possibility for our showrooms, but the team would be more vocal than ever.

“As we’ve seen with the Shelby, not everything is going to be considered for right-hand drive,” he said.

“It’s humbling because we initially forecast a thousand cars, but we’ve got to keep building it and look at the next opportunities now that we have a bigger voice”.

Ford Motor Company of Australia communications manager Jasmine Mobarek said that the team was still asking the US for increased supply to meet Australia’s constant Mustang thirst.

“We are absolutely, well and truly sold out for 2017,” she said. “We’re still working with the global team to ask for more.”

Ms Mobarek explained that the Mustang sales record was so significant that just one model had been able to turn the national VFACTS sports (less than $80,000) category around from decline to growth.

“The pride point is that we’ve basically been the saviour for that segment in the market. The segment would have been significantly down and Mustang has single-handedly grown it”.

To the end of June this year 2499 Mustangs had been registered, versus the next strongest performer in the segment and the Toyota 86 with 1220.

To date the category is up 43 per cent compared with the same point in 2015 – before the Mustang had launched – when it was down 15.8 per cent.

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