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Ford exec wants to Edge out Territory

On the prowl: There will be more variants of the Kuga than there is now when the facelifted version arrives next year, according to Ford Australia’s marketing boss.

Prospect of Ford’s Territory nameplate surviving slim after global Edge out

Ford logo29 Aug 2016

By DANIEL DEGASPERI

A FORD Australia executive has given the strongest indication yet that the Territory nameplate will be dropped and replaced by global Edge branding, admitting that 2017 will be a year of resetting SUV models ahead of a big 2018.

Earlier this month Ford announced that an imported SUV based on the global Edge will debut locally in late 2017 around a year after the demise of the Australian-made Territory on October 7, however it failed to confirm whether an existing or new name would be applied to the vehicle.

Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of Ford’s Sync3 infotainment system in Sydney, Ford Australia marketing director Lew Echlin explained why he hoped to leverage global marketing assets by nabbing the Edge nameplate currently used overseas.

“We’re very proud of the Territory and what it has done as a brand and what it has said about Ford in Australia in particular, so there’s definitely a value to the Territory brand,” Mr Echlin said.

“What I believe is that there’s an equally, if not better value, to carrying a global nameplate and having the strength of global media around the world.

“I’m looking at it as where the mass of global media is going to be, and the mass of media, the mass of coverage and ultimately the mass of global news is going to be around the Edge nameplate.

“The Edge has been a very well accepted product in its current state, there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t be even better represented in its future state, and in my heart of hearts, I don’t want an asterisk with ‘Edge aka Territory’ for Australia.

“The name game is an interesting one, but right now the front runner is Edge.” The second-generation of the Canadian-built Edge debuted in 2015 with a choice of turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder or 2.7-litre V6 engines, or a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6.

With a length of 4778mm the five-seat-only Edge is smaller than the 4856mm seven-seat Territory and GoAuto understands the seven-seat Edge currently available in China is not destined for western markets – hence Ford Australia now billing Edge as not a direct replacement for its current home-grown model.

For Australia the delayed timing of a Territory replacement simply reflected a wait for the current Edge’s first facelift.

 center imageLeft: Ford Australia marketing director Lew Echlin. Mr Echlin said it was “not necessarily” frustrating to have a year wait for a replacement model in the growing large-SUV segment, however he also confessed that next year would not be a calendar to capitalise on volume.

“2017 we’re going to see an unprecedented proliferation of our product line, and at the same time we are a global company and we want to make sure we have the right product in the right place at the right time,” he continued.

“For us 2018 is when we can take the best advantage of the global product line.” A short-term volume shortfall would appear likely for both Ford Australia’s large passenger car and SUV range.

According to industry body VFACTS, so far this year to the end of July, sales of the Mondeo soared by 110.1 per cent to 1721 sales for fifth position in the medium segment, but it has still been outsold by Falcon with 2819 sales, which will end production without replacement on October 7.

The Falcon ute has stopped production, without a replacement for its 1650 year-to-date sales.

Similarly, the 2183 sales of the Everest large SUV were almost half that of the Territory that has recorded 4251 sales over the same period but will finish production in six weeks without replacement until the Edge arrives.

Mr Echlin admitted that even the new Edge would struggle to deliver the once segment-leading sales volumes of its Australian-built predecessor that launched in 2004, simply due to the volume of competition in the segment.

“What we’re seeing now is the growth in the SUV market isn’t driven by hits but proliferation of SUVs, and if you liken it to the most popular aisle of a grocery store, the days of having one hit wonders or the single model that’s a big seller, are giving way to broader portfolios in the marketplace,” he said.

“We’re not putting our eggs in one basket, because we’ve observed that broader product lines are doing better. So we’re broadening with the Everest, the new Kuga is going to have more derivatives with it too, and ultimately the Territory replacement.” GoAuto understands that to fill the Territory void, Ford would offer increased specification with the facelifted Kuga from early 2017, while the rear-wheel-drive five-seat Everest was expected to lower entry to the range to under $50,000 for the first time from November.

The all-wheel-drive Everest Ambiente currently kicks off the range from $54,990.

Mr Echlin also commented that Ford’s own research showed most shoppers select an SUV after visiting a single dealership, indicating that it was critical that by 2018 the brand has its portfolio sorted.

“It’s all about shelf space, and one of the interesting facts … is that more and more now, two-thirds of SUV customers visit one dealership throughout the shopping process,” he explained.

“So the opportunity of them stopping at our ‘shelf’ comes from the freshest showroom of SUVs, but also having a broad one too.” “The other interesting fact is that as people now are increasingly buying SUVs because what ‘that’ one said about them. If they visit one dealership, and there’s one brand, then we need to have the opportunity to have an SUV that’s for them.”

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