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Ford boss wants exports

Export potential: Ford says there are "other opportunities" for Falcon.

Ford closely watches Holden’s export path as it considers its manufacturing plan

Ford logo19 Oct 2006

FORD Australia believes, like Holden, that exports are necessary to underpin its local manufacturing base.

The subject of exports for the next-generation Falcon and local engineering expertise are high on Ford Australia chief, Tom Gorman’s agenda.

"If there’s going to be a legacy from me in Australia I’d like it to be that I was able to crack the export nut," he said.

"We’re workin’ hard to do that.

"We’ve done some really good things in the past two and a half years and we’ve had some pretty stiff headwinds to try to get anything done in the marketplace.

"The results aren’t maybe where we’d like to seem them on a bottom-line basis but that’s the business." Mr Gorman is mid-way through an expected five-year term as Ford Australia chief, which brings future Falcon exports into a sharper focus.

Mr Gorman and Ford, views Holden’s success in the Middle East as a likely track to follow.

It his belief that if Ford can compete successfully against Holden locally, then it can do so in an export market like the Middle East, where the rear-drive Ford Crown Victoria is a popular seller.

"So there is a little bit of ‘they went first we ought follow’ ... there is some of that," he said.

"And we source the Middle East market out of North America." However, Mr Gorman said there were "other opportunities" for the next-generation Falcon.

"Because of the unique platform that we have and the unique structure we have at Ford that might present an opportunity for us that doesn’t exist for Holden," he said.

Ford is keenly watching how Holden’s flexible platform architecture for VE will be used throughout the General Motor world.

27 center imageLeft: BF MkII Fairmont Ghia.

Ford of Europe is also predisposed to the idea of the new rear-wheel drive Falcon platform architecture – codenamed E8 - and long-wheelbase designs playing a greater roll in Ford’s global business.

"Ultimately that would be the best position for us to be in because when you look at the viability of a rear-wheel drive car for Ford, whether it be short wheelbase or long wheelbase, it clearly exists around the world that our customers prefer a rear-wheel drive platform," he said.

"And even though we wouldn’t build a vehicle for all those customers and likely we would never build cars for North America that isn’t the only answer you want.

"If we have a sizeable export portfolio and can keep our manufacturing in the 120,000 to 140,000 range out of our plant that’s good for us.

"But more importantly, if we could get the rest of the world to share the architecture and perhaps we share some of theirs, that would be good.

"And if we were the lead vehicle engineering activity that works extremely well for us because then we get to spread that investment over a much larger volume." Again Mr Gorman comes back to the VE Commodore.

"If you look at Holden, they said they spent $190 million on the long-wheelbase cars, incremental, part of the $1.2 billion," he said.

"There would have been a lot of common engineering.

"Now if you think about that can you make that level of investment when you’re selling 150 a month, then no. But the fact they export an enormous number of long-wheelbase cars gives them a competitive advantage."

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