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Modest sales lift expected for Ford

Contact sport: Ford's EcoSport crossover has found 1364 homes so far this year, well off the pace of popular models such as the Mazda CX-3 which has shifted 5535 units.

Ford’s revamped line-up and brand image set for growth in 2016

21 Aug 2015

FORD Australia's new chief is cautiously optimistic about a slight boost in sales for the car-maker in 2016, spurred on by new and refreshed product, including the just-launched Ranger pick-up and incoming Focus small car.

The Australian-developed Ranger-based Everest SUV, and the Mustang pony car will also arrive by year's end, all following the new-generation Mondeo that belatedly launched Down Under in April.

Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman said he believes the brand will grow this year and beyond, led by its top-selling model, the Ranger.

“We'll see how we go in the second half of the year and the first bit of next year,” he said at the Ranger media launch in Victoria this week. “I would expect that to improve but I'm going to keep that close to my chest because I'm not going to have a target on my back, speaking candidly.

“I would say our aspirations are positive and we're confident that we should be able to do better, but having said that we'll have to earn the right to do that … the product will speak for itself and we'll see what the consumers will say,” he said.

As recently reported by GoAuto, Ford's year-to-date sales are sitting almost 8000 units below its 2014 performance, having sold 40,577 vehicles to the end of July.

But Mr Whickman said he sees sales potential in the recently launched Mondeo mid-sizer that is expected to partially fill the void when the Falcon is discontinued in October 2016 due to the closure of the company’s Victorian manufacturing operations.

“We're not going to fill the Falcon, but we're in the heart of launching Mondeo ... I expect to do better out of Mondeo. It will probably serve the purpose for some Falcon customers but it will carve out of its own niche anyway,” he said.

Ford’s communications and public affairs director Wes Sherwood said Mondeo sales had been hampered by availability issues – only 819 have been sold so far this year – and the brand’s conscious shift towards a retail strategy would pay dividends in the long term.

Sluggish sales of EcoSport crossover, which has sold 1364 units so far this year, and the Fiesta light car on which the EcoSport is based (2932 sales) are in need of support and the new brand strategy for the remainder of 2015 is expected to help turn those numbers around.

Mr Whickman said the EcoSport was not hamstrung by one specific issue and added that there was work to done on that model.

“Mazda CX-3 has come in and done a good job and that might be an interesting benchmark to think through in terms of what consumers are looking for. The Peugeots (2008) and some others haven't really taken off.

“We're stabilising in terms of what we're selling on a monthly basis. We go through what future product looks like and what customers are looking for, but there's not specific feedback I can put in front of you to say that is what people are desperate for,” he said.

New entrants in the sub-$40,000 small SUV segment have left Ford and other brands in the dust, most notably the Mazda CX-3 which has recorded 5535 sales to the end of July this year, and the Honda HR-V on 6260 sales.

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