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Lincoln no closer to Australia

Taking flight: Lincoln revealed the Aviator at this year’s New York show, but don’t expect to see it in Australian driveways anytime soon.

Ford’s Jim Farley rules out RHD Lincolns for now, but praises Aussie Ranger

Lincoln logo29 Mar 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in NEW YORK

THE Ford Motor Company executive in charge of the Australian market has ruled out right-hand-drive production for its premium brand Lincoln for now, as the car-making giant renews its focus on its two key markets, North America and China.

When asked by GoAuto at the New York motor show if there were any current plans for right-hook Lincoln production, Ford global markets president Jim Farley said: “Not yet.”

When pressed on why Ford was not ready to expand Lincoln’s presence beyond left-hand-drive markets, Mr Farley said the focus was squarely on two more profitable markets for now.

“It is just not our priority,” he said. “Our priority right now is North America and China and other left-hand-drive markets.”“We love Australia. (Ford Australia CEO) Graeme (Whickman) and the team are doing a great job. We love what’s happened there – Ranger and all of our truck and SUV line-up, so I can understand why you’re asking. Right now we want to stay small and grow the brand the right way.”



 center imageLeft: Ford global markets president Jim Farley

Former Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally told GoAuto in 2010 that a global Lincoln roll out – including RHD markets – was on the cards, but no progress has been made since then.

Lincoln’s main rival, GM-owned Cadillac, has also been rumoured to return to the Australian market after it’s last attempt in 2009 was halted just before launch because of the impact of the global financial crisis.

Mr Farley was at New York to present the new Lincoln Aviator plug-in hybrid SUV concept that the company says is a “preview” of an upcoming production model.

He told GoAuto that there was no engineering or design input into the Aviator from Ford’s Victorian-based team, but pointed to another car at the show with significant Australian input.

“No but you can go to the Ranger on the Ford stand and you can see that beautiful new Ranger – you should be very proud. It might as well talk with an Aussie accent in the navigation system.”

As GoAuto has reported, Lincoln has used Ford Australia’s engineering team in the past to test and tweak future products using pre-production mules.

Mr Farley said the transition from local manufacturing to being a full-line importer had been a challenge for Ford Australia, but added that he was happy with the direction the company was heading.

“I am really pleased with what’s happened in Australia with the rejuvenation of the brand, tightening down the brand – it is a proxy for our company. Focusing on trucks and SUVs, the brand getting healthier.

“You know it was a really tough and difficult transition for us, but now we really, I think, have our momentum in Australia. It is great to see, even the business results.”

Ford shut its local manufacturing operations in October 2016 and last year recorded sales of 78,161, a drop of 3.8 per cent over 2016. In the first tow months of 2018, Ford sales are steady, up 1.1 per cent on the same period last year.

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