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Ford Australia weighs up F-Series, EVs

Get trucking: The current F-Series is a left-hand-drive-only proposition, but the next one could get right-hook production.

F-Series truck could work in Aus, but electric vans must fit market says Ford boss

25 Sep 2018

FORD Australia president and CEO Kay Hart says the US-built F-Series trucks would work in the Australian market, adding that the company is keeping an eye on the sales rates of the current crop of right-hand-drive-converted offerings.
The F-Series was offered in Australia between 2001 and 2007 as a right-hand-drive conversion from a factory in Brazil, but the program was deemed too expensive to continue.
Ford’s two biggest competitors in the segment, Ram’s 1500-3500 range and the Chevrolet Silverado 1500-3500, are both now sold in Australia as right-hand-drive conversions under Ateco Automotive’s American Special Vehicles and Holden Special Vehicles respectively.
The current-generation F-Series has been on the market in the United States – where it is the best-selling model in the country – since 2014 and is a left-hook only model, but there is talk that the Blue Oval is considering offering the next-gen version, due in the early next decade, to RHD markets.
Speaking with GoAuto at the Ford Driving Skills for Life launch in Sydney last week, Ms Hart said the company would pay attention to the sales of the converted models and assess the viability of the F-Series in Australia.
“It is something I think would work,” she said. “It will be interesting to see some of the success of the right-hand-drive conversions that are coming in now. It is really going to be, what does the Australian public want? What does the driver want? And we continue to assess that. But there is obviously no right-hand drive available now.
“We will continue to look at it and if it is something that is high want, then we would look at how it may or may not fit in with us.”
The entry-level Ram 1500 kicks off from $79,950 driveaway and tops out at $144,350 plus on-road costs for the 3500 Laramie, while the Silverado ranges from $114,990 plus on-roads for the 2500HD WT to $147,990 for the 3500HD LTZ.
If Ford green lights RHD production and offers it in Australia, it is likely that it would undercut the Ram and Chevy given the cost of re-manufacturing them to RHD is built into the price.
The recent addition of a turbo-diesel engine to the F-Series could help the model’s case in Australia, given that the pick-up segment is dominated by diesel-powered models.
Ford’s Australian light-commercial-vehicle sales are tracking well so far this year, with Ranger 4x4 sales up by 2.6 per cent year on year, while registrations of the Transit Custom and Transit are up by 47.4 and 7.4 per cent respectively.
When asked if Ford had plans to expand its line-up to include models offered in other markets, such as the Transit Connect compact van, Ms Hart said the company would assess any model that could be successful in Australia.
“We are having a great run in terms of light commercials. We have a lot of great products globally, and we will continue to look at what might work here in Australia. And those ones may, may not. The great thing about Ford is we will continue to look at what is available globally and what we believe will really suit the Australian market.”
Ms Hart said the company was also assessing the viability of the plug-in hybrid version of the Transit Custom and 48-volt mild hybrid version of the Transit that were revealed at the IAA commercial vehicles show in Hannover last week.
“Different applications, different use,” she said. “I think (with) overall electrification, it is something that we are looking at. What is the market wanting here? What is the use of the vehicle? And what application would fit for that use here? That is sort of where we are at. We are at an assessment phase I would say.”
Ms Hart had a similar response when asked if Ford Australia was considering offering the yet-to-be-revealed Mach 1 all-electric sports crossover that has been teased by Ford and is expected to carry Mustang DNA.
“It has had a lot of positive feedback in terms of the concept and where Ford is heading. Obviously Mustang is doing extremely well for us here and continues to be a strong brand globally. And with the push in SUVs, it is a great combination vehicle.
“But we are in a stage of thinking about, again what does this market want, what is it looking for, when is it potentially ready for a vehicle like that? Is it ready?”

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