News - Ford

Ford gets high on model mix

Short supply: Ford has a queue for its top-of-the-range Fiesta Zetec.

Top Falcon and Fiesta models in demand as Ford responds to changing demand

Ford logo20 Apr 2009

FORD says it has been caught by surprise by customer demand for higher-end models in its FG Falcon and latest Fiesta light-car ranges.

Ford Australia president Marin Burela said supply for high-series cars had at times struggled to meet buyer orders as private customers responded to the increased specification levels in more expensive models.

For the Falcon, this meant greater demand for the G6E and G6E Turbo variants, while the range-topping Fiesta Zetec was scarce in Ford dealerships.

Most Fiestas sold since the WS-generation went on sale in January have been manual, as automatic variants have been thin on the ground until the past few weeks.

With auto now available, monthly sales of the German-made hatch should hit 1000 over the next few months, Mr Burela predicts.

He also said Ford was working hard to jump-start flat fleet sales for the lower-line Falcon XT and G6 models.

Ford plans to do this with the recently announced fuel consumption and emissions output improvements to cars fitted with the optional six-speed ZF automatic gearbox.

“Falcon has really started to gain traction,“ Mr Burela said.

“In the Australian industry, most cars seem to be sold at the entry level.

“What we’ve managed to do at Ford is actually change that phenomena, and it is probably the first time that has happened in the history of the (local automotive manufacturing) industry in Australia.

 center image Left: Ford Falcon G6E.

“Falcon right now at the entry level sells about 30 per cent of its volume, while in the sports derivative area (the middle series), we’re currently running at around 34 to 35 per cent, and in the upper-segment – the G6E and G6E Turbo – we’re currently running around the 32/33 per cent as well. So we’ve completely started to shift the way the industry responds.

“And it is really interesting because when you go back and compare that to competitors, you will find that we are starting to dominate the mid series and the high series of those segments in the private buyer area in particular.

“The area we have not been very strong at is the area that we have been excluded out of, mainly driven by things like fuel economy and emissions, in which we are now taking action on, and are now able to go back and open that door. I think you are now going to see, as we move forward over the next 12 months, a very different game for us in the large-car area.

“We will now compete with fleets we could not compete with, we are now going to compete with governments who would not even have us on their shopping lists. And we are now showing and demonstrating that we are growing our private buyer share month over month over month. And that is a first for the industry, and that is a first for us in Australia.”

Asked if this meant the optional six-speed automatic powertrain would be repackaged to suit fleet and government departments that mandated better fuel economy figures and sub-240g/km carbon-dioxide emissions ratings, Mr Burela said there may be some Falcon model specification realignment.

“We will be talking to all those fleet and government decision makers on what exactly they need and how they want us to package it.

“We are open to collaboration. We are not here to serve ourselves. We are here to serve our customers. And with 850,000 cars sold annually, that tells us there are a lot of customers.

‘We’re moving forward. We have been relatively quiet talking in about our strengths. We have been very conservative in the past. But we are no longer going to be conservative. We have a great story to tell.

“For us to be doing between 30 and 35 per cent with the mid and high-end series, is to absolutely challenge the status quo and the way that Australians have been buying cars. It really has.

“And we have done it again with Fiesta.

“If you look at the light car segment, and you go back and look at the purchase percentage of that segment, typically entry-level vehicles have been running at 60 per cent.

“But with Fiesta, the biggest problem I have right now is that I can’t get the Zetec on the ground quickly enough.

“We have orders spanning three and four and five months in advance for the Fiesta Zetec. Sales have outstripped supply. We have been selling more Fiestas than expected.

“And the vast majority of all of our sales have been manuals. The reason why is that we haven’t had any autos in Australia. We have just started to trickle them in. The reason we did that is that the auto was some months behind the launch versus the manual.

“So, great car – it has won every single automotive award around the world – great package, all the technology at an equivalent price to a competitor (Toyota Corolla Ascent) that has nothing of the feature content and technology of the Fiesta.

“So how do you then get the Australian consumer to consider the traditional Australian brands? It’s through product, communication and education. That’s the way you do it.

“It’s the only way to do it.”

Read more:

No big discounts on base Falcon

Falcon is getting there, says Ford boss

New-vehicle sales slide eases in March

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