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Large-car reliance a travesty: Burela

Looming large: The local industry's reliance on large cars such as the Ford Falcon has been criticised by Ford Australia president Marin Burela.

Ford boss criticises failure to pick trend to smaller cars

Ford logo20 Apr 2009


THE Australian motor industry’s reliance on large-car production has been described by Ford Australia president Marin Burela as “one of the biggest travesties” in local decision making.

Speaking at the opening of Ford’s new Advanced Centre for Automotive Research and Testing (ACART) at its You Yangs proving ground in Victoria, Mr Burela said all local manufacturers should already be producing small or medium cars.

“I think that one of the biggest travesties and issues that the Australian industry has faced is that in Australia we were not looking far enough into the future, to understand where the consumer and where the market would be heading,” he said.

“All of us should have been producing a small or medium car in Australia today. Yet all of us are only producing only large cars in Australia today.

“It is not a case of fault. I think it is a case of, you make the decisions that you make at the time based on the best source of input and data and intelligence that you can gather.”

Toyota Australia produces the medium-sized Camry and Aurion, promoting the latter as a large car.

Ford and rival GM Holden are planning to address the issue by introducing locally-made small cars over the next few years, with Holden starting production of a small car based on GM’s Delta II global platform from late next year and Ford Australia starting Focus production in 2011.

 center imageLeft: Ford Australia president Marin Burela with a Ford Fiesta.

Mr Burela said small and medium-sized cars had won the day in Europe, and Australia would “redefine itself” over the next five or six years.

“We are going to see more and more movement into the mid-sized and light vehicles. I think you will see that it is growing,” he saidMr Burela said Ford expected the large-car market to plateau at about 10 per cent.

That is roughly in line with the 2009 year-to-date figure of 9.9 per cent, which is down from 11.8 per cent in the first quarter of last year.

“I think you will see that there is an ongoing large-car segment that is around the 100,000 units, and our forecasting right out through to the end of the (next) decade is that it will continue to be around that 90,000 to 110,000 unit figure,” he said.

“That then puts you in a pretty interesting scenario playing: what do you do? Which products do you invest in? How do you make sure that you are well represented across the broad spectrum? “We’re actually forecasting that the industry around the end of the (next) decade will hit the 1.1-1.15 million units, and in that industry the large car segment will probably represent around nine to 10 per cent.

“We’re on a pretty good position here at Ford in Australia.

“We tend to operate all of our cycles on a six-year cycle on all of our car lines, and we don’t have to make any cycle plan, product-specific decisions – specifically when it comes to the large car – until the end of 2010 to 2011.”

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