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Ford tips 1.2 million Australian market by 2013

Working overtime: Ford's Broadmeadows plant has worked its first overtime shift since 2005 as it meets demand for models such as Territory.

Market set to resume record levels as financial crisis fades, says Ford boss

Ford logo15 Dec 2009


FORD Australia has talked up the prospects of a recovery in the automotive industry, with its president and CEO, Marin Burela, telling GoAuto that industry sales would reach 1.2 million within three years.

Mr Burela said the global financial crisis had caused great upheaval, but the market had already sent signals that it was recovering.

“We kicked off the year, 2009, well up in at 900,000-915,000 units level (in annualised monthly figures), where in the previous November (2008), we were running at about 830,000,” he said.

“So there was a significant shift happening very, very quickly.

“The global financial crisis without any doubt redefined the rules for everyone, in terms of how we move forward, how we position ourselves, which products do we bring to market.”

While the year may not have been a boom period, Mr Burela said 2009 sales had been strong and 2010 would only be better.

“In our view, for 2009, the industry will fall somewhere around 930,000 units. I think 2009 was a year of two halves. The first half was soft, the second half boomed I think that (second half result) will start to flow through into 2010.

“For 2010, it will be a 930,000-plus figure, and we’ve been conservative in our planning.

 center image Left: Ford Australia president and CEO Marin Burela.

“We think that the first quarter will level out again, there will be some pull-forward of orders from the last quarter of 2009. We think that in the last three quarters things will start to move back to more than a million (sales, in terms of monthly annualised figures).”

The prospect of a first quarter slowdown – due to a pull-foward in the last quarter of 2009 because of the 50 per cent small business investment allowance – was not of concern for Ford.

“It’s okay for the first quarter to be softer we have planned for it, we’re ready for it.”

According to Mr Burela, beyond this hurdle lay the hope of a growth period.

“In 2010-2011, I wouldn’t be surprised if the industry moved into the million-plus units. We’re looking forward to when the industry gets 1.1 to 1.2 million, but I think we’ll have to wait two or three years for that to happen.

“It’s too early to go out and say we’re completely out of the woods but it’s amazing what difference a year makes.”

One of the signs of recovery, said Mr Burela, was the increased demand for locally produced Fords resulting in the first overtime shift for four years.

“The biggest single challenge we have today is that we cannot make enough of them. Last Saturday was a production day – an extended production day we built 321 vehicles. There was a rich mix of Territorys there … this is the first time we at Ford have worked an overtime day since 2005.

“We don’t have enough Territorys out there, we can’t meet demand.”

Mr Burela said that in terms of locally produced vehicles, November sales grew 32 per cent over the same month last year.

“We sold 1600 vehicles more in November this year than we did in November 2008,” he said.

“Falcon’s share continues to grow, it is consistently running in the 35-36 per cent share level. It was only 12 months ago it was running in the area of 26-27 per cent.” Unlike some other car company CEOs, Mr Burela accorded the federal government’s spending measures unreserved praise.

“I have pay due credit the federal government,” he said. “They clearly saw that they had to act, not only in the automotive sector, but other sectors as well.”

The government incentive for small business purchases had a roll-on effect, said Mr Burela.

“The small business allowance has really stimulated sales in the last quarter of this year, and it’s given confidence to people, not only in business side of sales but we’ve also seen it in the private sector.”

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