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Focus closing in on Falcon

Focussed: Next-gen Focus is expected to sell in far greater numbers than the current Ford small-car (pictured) thanks to freer supply.

With emerging export plans and rising local demand, Ford has high hopes for Focus

Ford logo18 Oct 2007

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS and PHILIP LORD

FORD has revealed that the 2011 Focus production facility in Melbourne may produce up to 50,000 units annually.

If achieved, that would put the European-developed Ford small car within striking distance of matching the Falcon’s production capacity, which in 2006 added up to 58,248.

Speaking at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney last week, Ford Australia managing director Tom Gorman said that by increasing Focus’ sales from today’s supply-constrained 1500 units per month, and combining these with export sales, should easily be within the car’s reach by the time it comes on stream in 2011.

“We’re talking 15,000 units on the export side, and that only leaves us with 25,000 units domestically - and that’s only 2000 units per month – and so... we have to start thinking how we are going to build beyond that.

“If we go to 3000 per month that’s 36,000 (units per annum), and add the 15,000 to that then you’re a little over 50,000 – so I think the right number for us is between 40,000 and 50,000.” Expanding the Focus’ appeal as a fleet car is one way path that Mr Gorman believes Ford will go down with the 2011 model.



27 center imageLeft: BF MkII Falcon and facelifted Focus.

“We can do a lot more with Focus... when we localise it.

“And localising it, and getting a better cost position, will allow us to go into some segments we don't go in today. “For example we don't sell any rental cars in Focus, and if you look at Corolla's mix, it's heavily rental cars. So there's volume growth available to us there, profitable growth." Mr Gorman said that operating between 40,000 and 50,000 units a year would be enough capacity for the plant for now.

This pours cold water over speculation that the 2011 Focus would be joined by another related vehicle, such as the Kuga compact SUV unveiled at last month’s Frankfurt Motor Show. “If you look at the addition of Focus both domestic and with export capabilities, what Focus is going to do is take us well over our capacity levels.

“And that’s about the right answer for us at this time." In fact, Mr Gorman insinuated that there just isn’t the time or the resources to tool up for anything other than the 2011 Focus.

“We’re still a couple of years away from localising Focus, and all the work over the coming two-and-a-half years is to literally be getting our facility ready to take that car into our plant,” he explained.

When asked what new export markets the 2011 Focus would be heading for, Mr Gorman would not elaborate, but promised to reveal their identity as soon as all the formalities have been carried out.

“It’s now a public relations issue,” he said.

“More have been identified – we’ve mentioned New Zealand and South Africa – but there are other markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Gorman was also adamant that the 2011 Focus would not necessarily become a cheaper vehicle to buy just because it will be made in Australia.

“Just by localising it your freight duty goes down immediately and gives us a better cost position.

“(But) this is a fantastic product that commands a premium in the market place relative to some of our competitors, and it deserves its price point.

“This isn’t about giving the sheetmetal away – we’re going to price it where it gives good value and the price equation works for our customers.

“And if we have some flexibility on the cost side, it then gives us some flexibility in terms of feature content, and some flexibility in terms of price point, and we plan to take advantage of that, all really being driven at building our volume going forward.

Mr Gorman also deflected any rumours that Ford Australia would be ‘Australianising’ the development of the 2011 Focus specifically for our market.

“We play a role already (since) the process already has us deeply involved in the development of a product... it’s about building the one Ford, about building a product that can satisfy multiple users.

“And I think (Ford Australia) is well and truly in place to do that,” he added.

Read more:

Ford Australia to build Focus at Broadmeadows


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