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Ford eyes bigger slice of the sales pie

Sales territory: How much Ford’s total sales will increase in 2004 depends almost exclusively on how many sales Territory will cannibalise from other Ford models.

Ford banks on increased sales through Territory, Fiesta and a refreshed Escape

Ford logo20 Feb 2004


A REJUVENATED Ford Australia won’t be happy with anything less than a 15 per cent share of new car sales in 2004.

But if it can overcome its biggest challenge – managing the supply of variants within two all-new model lines in the Fiesta light car and Territory SUV – it expects to achieve an even bigger slice of Australia’s new car business.

Ford sold 126,581 vehicles in 2003, giving it about 13 per cent of Australia’s record new car sales last year, but hopes Fiesta, Territory and a refreshed Escape range will combine to snare at least 15 per cent of what is expected to be another record year of new car sales Down Under in 2004.

"We got about 13 per cent market share in 2003, in a market of 910,000 – so certainly we’d be looking for a percentage point growth in our market share in 2004. And probably higher than that – I’d like something more than 15 per cent," Ford Australia director of product and business planning Don Pearce told GoAuto.

On sale from April 1, Fiesta – the first Ford light car sold here since the Kia-based Festiva was discontinued in December 2000 – will be available in both three and five-door bodystyles, each with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine.

All Fiestas will also offer the option of an automatic transmission that was developed specifically for Australia and Japan, and will debut here simultaneously with European markets.

"What we want to do is get the major launches with the dealers out before Territory – dealer training and sales presentations under our belt before we get into the serious Territory stuff," said Mr Pearce, who added that the Fiesta rebranding campaign would be intensive.

"Not as much as some of our competitors might spend perhaps, but it takes a reasonable amount of money to get a new brand established," he said.

2004.02.19_Ford_Pearce.jpgMr Pearce said extensive local testing had resulted in some minor adjustments to Fiesta’s Australian specification and, although the price is yet to be locked in, Ford expects to shift between 400 and 600 Fiestas per month.

"We aren’t aiming to do a big class-leading share in the light car segment. It’s not going to be down in the lowest price point, absolutely not. So we’re going to have to temper our aspirations with something that’s got some more realistic pricing in it for us," Mr Pearce said.

Judging Fiesta demand will be easy compared to Territory, however, which will be available in two auto-only specifications, each with the option of rear and all-wheel drive and either five or seven seats.

While the recently facelifted Escape, including the addition of a four-cylinder variant for the first time, is also expected to lift Escape sales by 100 per month, Territory will complete Ford’s SUV line-up and is expected to add at least 25,000 units annually on an ongoing basis.

Of course with an on-sale date of June 1, Territory will realise only half those sales this year, but exactly how much Ford’s total sales will increase in 2004 depends almost exclusively on how many sales Territory will cannibalise from other Ford models, namely Falcon wagon.

"Some of Territory (sales) will be substituting for other sales so you need to adjust that back. It’s hard to call – I don’t know that I want to quote a figure on that but it’s certainly a factor," Mr Pearce said.

"And that’s one of the interesting things about Territory – it’s such an unknown road in certain ways because it’s such a new product in the marketplace. Market research tells you a bit but it doesn’t give you all the answers.

"So one of the things we’ve got to do in our planning for production and sales is provide flexibility both up and down, if you will.

"If demand is greater or there’s more Territory and less Falcon then what does that mean in terms of our production and procurement patterns? Rear-wheel drive versus all-wheel drive – how do you plan that so you’ve got the flex to move to suit the market? That’s been the major consideration for us.

"(Falcon) wagon will certainly be hurt. I guess if there’s one product that’ll be hurt more than anything else in our range it would be the wagon – I think that’s fair. But there’ll be some draw from a wide variety of sources."

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