AFTER losing 12.0 per cent of its volume to the end of November this year, Ford Australia is hoping to growth its sales in 2019 thanks to its recent new-model blitz that has just concluded with the release of the Focus small car and Endura large SUV.
Speaking to GoAuto last week at the Focus and Endura national media launch in Healesville, Victoria, Ford Australia and New Zealand president and chief executive officer Kay Hart said the late timing of its new models impacted early sales but the turnaround has now begun.
“For us, it’s been definitely a year of two halves, because we’ve launched basically over 90 per cent of the showroom between the months of August to December, which is great, because we’re going into 2019 with such a refreshed line-up” she said.
“We’ve had some great success – Ranger: strength to strength; introduction of Raptor was super exciting for the brand, Mustang: the new model’s been taken so well; and Bullitt was a huge play for us, and those are sold out.
“All the launches that we’ve done through quarter three and four really bode us well as we go into 2019.”
While Ms Hart could not be drawn on Ford Australia’s overall 2019 sales forecast, she did say it will be looking to claw back some of its volume lost this year, with its year-to-date total sitting at 63,851 units.
“As we come in with new models, we’d obviously expect volume to come from those models, so we’re looking forward to growth next year,” she said.
When asked if the Focus and Endura will help to decrease Ford Australia’s reliance on its best-selling Ranger ute, which accounts for a massive 60.7 per cent of its overall sales, Ms Hart said she hopes that will be the case.
“Ranger has done so well, and we’ll continue to make sure it does well, but I think these new additions to do help to expand our coverage and our line-up,” she said.
While sales of the Ranger have decreased by 1.3 per cent this year, to 38,779 units, it is still the second best-selling model in the Australian new-vehicle market, behind Toyota’s rival HiLux ute, with its October facelift likely to keep this momentum rolling into 2019.
The Focus has experienced a 31.2 per cent decrease in volume, to 3783 units, in the lead up to its fourth-generation model’s release this month. It launches with Trend and ST-Line grades, while Active and Titanium variants will join the line-up in the first half of 2019.
Conversely, the all-new Endura five-seater’s three-grade line-up is available from launch this month, with it competing in the same sub-$70,000 segment as the Ranger-based Everest seven-seater, which has increased its sales by 18.0 per cent, to 4945 units, and received a facelift in August.
The Mustang sportscar quickly established itself as Ford Australia’s second best-selling model when it burst onto the scene in January 2016, although its sales have declined by 31.5 per cent this year, to 5973 units, but Ms Hart said its sub-$80,000 segment’s bubble is yet to fully burst, despite its volume dipping 36.8 per cent.
“From a Mustang standpoint, we had a whole lot of pent-up demand, in terms of when we launched, and we got those through to customers, so we definitely had a launch spike,” she said.
“We’re highly confident in that vehicle. I don’t believe that sportscar segment has burst; definitely not for Mustang.
“I don’t think we’ll see the volumes that we had as that launch peak happened, but there’s definitely a strong segment for Mustang, so we’re continuing to see great numbers.”
The Mustang was facelifted in June, while Ford Australia’s 700-unit allocation of the aforementioned Bullitt variant has already sold out, as deliveries started in October.
When asked if Ford Australia is still committed to the Mondeo mid-size car, despite the North American market moving to drop it from its model line-up, Ms Hart said overseas decisions will have no local impact, although she was frank about the sub-$60,000 segment that is down 30.9 per cent.
“There’s no doubt that the segment has dropped considerably,” she said. “We continue to evaluate what our line-up will be moving forward, but, right now, we are committed to Mondeo.”
Sales of the Mondeo have decreased by 35.0 per cent, to 1833 units, although its prospects may be boosted by a facelifted model that is expected to launch in 2019.
While the Endura fills the hole between the mid-size Escape SUV and Everest in Ford Australia’s model line-up, Ms Hart said there are no more gaps left, even with stock of the non-ST Fiesta light car finally drying up after its discontinuation was announced in April.
As reported, the Fiesta will be offered in German-sourced seventh-generation form Down Under in the second quarter next year but only in the performance-focused ST grade. As a result, its sales have declined by 63.6 per cent, to 531 units.
The Escape has been a steady contributor for Ford Australia in 2018, with its volume down only 6.3 per cent, to 4373 units, while the EcoSport small SUV is a little further behind its pace, dipping by 11.4 per cent to 1101 units.
The Transit light-commercial vehicle has been a rare source of growth, with its sales up 6.9 per cent, to 2524 units, thanks to the release of its facelifted Custom model in June.