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You little bottler!

Global: Focus is engineered in Germany and built in South Africa.

Focus demand takes off but Ford faces supply bottlenecks - and Holden's Korean twins

Ford logo30 Aug 2005


SUPPLY bottlenecks in South Africa are holding up deliveries of the Focus small car, as Ford Australia president Tom Gorman admits the company under-estimated demand for the vehicle.

"We’re doing all the right things, it’s just a matter now of getting cars out of South Africa and that has a lot to do with the strength of demand for the car in other markets," he told GoAuto last week.

"But we’re working closely with them to increase their capacity and improve availability to us.

"The demand is there but we still have to break some of the supply bottlenecks with South Africa as we go into the New Year."Mr Gorman ruled out sourcing cars from Europe to make up the difference.

"The problem with that is jerking our dealers back and forth," he said. "If we were to go to Europe and get supply, would you do that on a temporary basis or a permanent basis? We want to work with South Africa as a source and we havevery good plans going forward."Mr Gorman said the company did "undercall" the rapid growth of the small-car segment to some degree, contributed in part by rising fuel prices and lower, more competitive prices.

"If we get to a point of doing 1300 or 1400 Focuses a month that’s not enough for us," he said. "We need to be aiming our targets quite a bit higher than that.

"At the launch of Focus in this market I was talking about a 30 or 40 per cent sales uplift, which would be roughly 1300 or 1400 a month.

"I think we can do a lot more, not only because it’s a great car but the segmentation is clearly moving to small cars."Ford has notched up 1900 sales since the new Focus went on sale in June with a YTD total of more than 5600.

It is viewing with interest Holden’s decision to source Korean-built productsto replace the European-sourced Barina light car and Polish-built (previous generation) TS Astra, particularly as the new Holdens should undercut Fiesta andFocus by a significant margin.

Mr Gorman said being effective in the light-car and small-car segments required a "costcompetitive" approach but was unsure what Holden’s manoeuvre would mean in terms of quality or customer acceptance of the former Daewoo (Kalos and Lacetti) products.

"I really can’t comment on that until it’s in the marketplace. And I also don’t know where they’re going to price things and what their cost-base will be," he said.

"But clearly a new competitor that has the potential to have a low cost base and be more aggressive in the marketplace is something I wish we didn’t have to face."To offset Holden’s low-cost Korean rivals, Ford plans to place greater emphasis on the Fiesta and Focus’s German engineering heritage as a point of difference.

When the Focus is more firmly entrenched, the Broadmeadows-based company has a further option of following Holden’s lead with the new Astra in offering model variants such as a coupe-convertible.

Mr Gorman has also not ruled out a possible diesel-engine Focus, or wagon and sports models.

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