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‘Incremental’ growth expected from Ford Everest

Base camp: An entry level two-wheel drive, 2.2-litre diesel version of the Everest is available in other markets, but it is unclear if it will be offered in Australia.

Everest won’t top Territory or Prado, as Ford mulls 2.2-litre 2WD version for Aus

3 Aug 2015


FORD Australia is expecting its Everest seven-seat SUV to provide “incremental” volume, with the company suggesting it is unlikely to match the sales highs of the locally built Territory.

Launched in Thailand last week but not arriving in Australian dealerships until October, the Everest will compete in the ever-expanding sub-$60,000 large SUV segment that already includes Ford’s own Territory, although the latter will be phased out with the closure of Australian manufacturing in October 2016.

The Territory has averaged about 800 sales a month this year, with 4760 units sold to the end of June, down 6.3 per cent compared with the same period last year.

The Toyota Prado will be the target of Ford’s marketing campaign for the Everest, but the Blue Oval is not expecting to top the popular Japanese off-roader, which is currently leading the segment on 7872 sales year to date.

In fact, Toyota occupies the top two spots in the segment, with its family-oriented Kluger soft-roader running second with 6780 sales, ahead of the five-seat-only Jeep Grand Cherokee on 6441 (down 25 per cent this year), and the resurgent Subaru Outback which has lifted by a massive 312.5 per cent for 5465 sales.

Ford Australia communications and public affairs director Wes Sherwood said supply was looking good for the Everest’s October showroom debut, but he acknowledged that the new model will not top the sales charts in the competitive segment.

“We have no indication that there would be any constraints,” he told GoAuto at the Everest media launch in Chiang Rai, Thailand last week. “But you’re not going to see huge volumes for that. Certainly less than we would see out of Territory, for example.

“We would love to be in a position where we under-called demand. But we put our plans together and then we adjust.”

Mr Sherwood said Everest sales could eat into the Territory in its last year on sale, but added that Ford expected most sales to come from other brands.

“Territory is going very well and we are really pleased with how it is doing.

In general, the SUV market is expanding so there is room for more and so I am sure there will be some Territory (cannibalisation),” he said.

“But I think we will see a lot of sales from our competitors. We will continue to see (passenger) car customers moving to SUVs. I think it’s going to be really diverse. I don’t think we are going to have a dramatic change to Territory. But certainly it’s another choice for customers.”

The Everest will launch with three 4WD variants, priced from $54,990 plus on-road costs for the base model, and topping out at $76,990 for the Titanium.

All versions are powered by the same 3.2-litre turbo-diesel powertrain matched with a six-speed automatic transmission.

A two-wheel-drive version powered by the 2.2-litre diesel from the base Ranger is on offer in other markets, and while Ford could not confirm the entry level-variant for Australia, it is believed it is under consideration for this market.

Mr Sherwood said that the company’s product portfolio was now more flexible than in the past, meaning it is easier to add variants of certain models if required.

“We are in a very good position these days because our global product development system is at full stride now. There are lots of options to pull from the global product basket. But we still have one million (total industry) sales in Australia.

“Everest is an incremental offering. You know it’s at the higher end of the market where it sits. So it’s not going to be a volume (seller).

“We went for what we think is the volume in that segment which is 4x4, but we are not going to close our eyes if opportunities emerge.

“Look at what we did with Kuga. It launched in 2013, we got some feedback from dealers, customers and journalists, and a year-and-a-half later we had an all-new engine line-up.”

Ford Motor Company vice-president of product development for Asia-Pacific Trevor Worthington was also unable to confirm the smaller-engined 2WD for Australia, suggesting it would depend on individual market needs.

“I think it’s horses for courses,” he said. “The lugging power and pulling power and launch feel of the 3.2 (engine) is great.

“The 2.2-litre has a different balance of fuel economy and refinement but still, for the markets we are going to sell it in, it still tows three tonnes, is still a really capable vehicle, but again it is about individual market requirements and what they want to go with.”

In terms of other Everest variants, Mr Worthington said a hybrid version is unlikely for now given the low take-up of the technology in the segment, but suggested that it is not completely out of the picture.

“We have got an eye on what people are doing in that space. We are not willing to talk about it. Don’t take that to mean ‘yes they are working on it but not willing to talk about it’. But it is something out in our future that we are looking at but we have just got nothing to talk about,” he said.

“I would say if you look at these kinds of vehicle in the types of markets we are selling in, there isn’t a lot of electrification right now, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen in the future.”

Currently the only model in Australia’s sub-$60,000 large SUV segment that offers a hybrid variant is the Nissan Pathfinder.

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