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Sales back on the boil

Confidence: Ford Australia president Marin Burela predicts a 900,000-plus market this year.

Buoyed by growth, Ford predicts industry sales will sail past 900,000 units in 2009

Ford logo20 Oct 2009

FORD Australia says it is confident that a last-quarter upturn in new vehicle demand will push the market back above the 900,000 this year.

According to president and CEO Marin Burela, recovering confidence in an economy that has withstood the global economic downturn better than most, along with the federal government’s 50 per cent investment allowance tax break, may even drive up that final figure by a further 20,000 units.

The Ford chief added that his firm’s improving product portfolio, combined with the fuel economy gains of the Falcon and the upcoming Territory diesel, put the company in a strong position to reap the rewards of a growing market during 2010.

Speaking at the launch of the Fiesta Econetic in Melbourne last week, Mr Burela said myriad positive economic signs had vindicated his belief in the resilience of the Australian new vehicle industry.

“You have to have your mind open. The business is changing rapidly. The Australian market is changing rapidly,” he told GoAuto.

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“Twelve months ago people asked me ‘where do you think the industry will be in 2009’ and I said ‘too early to say we’ve just fallen off a cliff in 2008’.

“I then came out and said ‘we think the industry will be at 900,000’ and everybody said ‘hmm, you’re a bit optimistic aren’t you?’“(But) we’ve been saying that all year, and we think the industry in fact will probably exceed 900,000 and may be in the range of 910,000 to 920,000.

“Some of that is clearly propped up by the investment allowance that is in there, but having said all of that, the economy in Australia is moving in the right direction. Australia has not been in a recession, and there’s a level of confidence that we are starting to see and feel in the country in general.”

Buoyed by the market share increase for both the locally made Falcon and Territory, as well as the success of the new Fiesta, Mr Burela also believes that the prevailing confidence is working for Ford at a consumer level.

“The G6 and G6E/Turbo has been such a success for us. The order take now is into January and February,” he said.

“(As far as) the market share for Falcon sedan versus Commodore sedan (is concerned), we have grown our share over the last 10 months from 28 to 36 per cent, so that is growing. And the gap between our vehicle and Commodore vehicle sales now ranges between 30 and 200 cars per month, whereas going back 12 to 18 months ago the gap was in the range of 1500.

“As we’ve started to communicate the strength of our products, the technology that is available with it, the quality of the cars, the features and contents, the fuel efficiency that is there – the Australian buyers have started to move with it.

“The average age of the Falcon buyers 18 months ago was 66 years, and now it is 45. It’s a big difference. So we’re really pleased with the progress that we’ve made.

“Territory – that’s another great story. Its segment is broken up into petrol and diesel, 50 per cent each. Now our share growth in the petrol component of the Territory’s medium SUV segment has gone from 22 to 27 per cent over the last eight months.

“But here’s the thing: now we’ve coming out and going to do the diesel. Now we are going to participate in the other half that we don’t currently participate in – diesel. So what will that do for Territory?“(So) we’re really covering the chess board we’ve got the balance right. And it will be an interesting year in 2010 – let me just say that.”

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