Bob Graziano, the boss of Ford Australia, reported recently in the Sydney media that Ford’s Australian operations are on track and heading in the right direction. He believes beyond doubt that the recently released Ford Territory is a top class vehicle. The $232 million investment fund that Ford has committed to its Australian operations has partly gone to help develop the Territory.
Ford Australia is in for a big year, as they will be looking to update nearly its entire model lineup. This will include the Ranger, Focus and some significant changes to the Ford Falcon. The new four-cylinder EcoBoost turbocharged engine will power the Falcon in 2011. LPG users will also be pleased to see the introduction of a liquid phase injection LPG system offered with the Falcon. The Australian made Ford Falcon will become the world’s first rear-wheel-drive EcoBoost four-cylinder engine vehicle.
EcoBoost is a family of turbocharged and direct injected six-cylinder and four-cylinder petrol engines produced by Ford. These engines are equipped with EcoBoost technology and are designed to deliver power and torque consistent with a larger displacement, naturally aspirated, engines. However still achieving approximately 20% better fuel efficiency. Ford also claim a 15% reduced greenhouse emission compared with these larger displacement engines. Relative to the power output and fuel efficiency of hybrid and diesel technologies, Ford sees EcoBoost as an affordable and versatile alternative and intends on using the EcoBoost technology extensively in future vehicle applications across it range.
Falcon has had a very poor start to the year with the January 2011 sales figures pushing the model out of the top-ten selling list. Ford is saying that 25% of its market share is with having a XR8 variant and a LPG Falcon. So without these variants this is going some way to reducing the car’s selling potential.
The marketing team at Ford are fast to point out that it is important comparing like model to like model, as with, six-cylinder Falcon sedan to six-cylinder Commodore sedan sales, the Falcon actually outsold the Commodore all of last year. It’s when you combine the entire Commodore range including the SS and Sport-wagon that Holden takes an overall lead. You do wonder how true this really is and how much of this is marketing talk.
You could argue, who really cares, when looking at the big car market currently and its slow but almost sure decline. However there are a lot of big car owners and drivers out there that will hate to see this part of Ford’s offering disappear. Bob Graziano was reported as saying, “We believe that these EcoBoost engines will provide customers with a genuinely attractive alternative to diesel or hybrid power units, delivering highly competitive fuel economy and cost-of-ownership, along with the responsive performance and wide rev range that have made petrol engines the favoured choice for so many drivers”.
EcoBoost technology may be a great thing, time will tell but Ford is pinning some hope on the new Territory. Especially as the Territory will now be offered in a diesel version and be able to compete directly with the other makes of SUV’s that are powered with a diesel option.
At the moment Ford Australia has no plans to export the Territory outside of the local Australian and New Zealand markets. Bob Graziano explained that main reason behind the delay in getting a diesel optioned Territory to the market was that it had come down to a resource allocation and that when the Territory first launched, diesel SUVs were accounting for less than 25% of the market share.
Ford is not looking put a turbo six-cylinder engine in the new Ford Territory due to poor sales from the outgoing model. The extra torque and power from the diesel Territory, Ford hope, should convince customers that may have looked at a turbo six-cylinder.
Ford Australia’s exterior design boss Todd Willing has said, “During the design phase of the Territory not only were similarly priced competitors thoroughly examined, but also aspirational competitors such as the BMW X3 and X5 were put under the Microscope”.
Well do you think Ford is heading in the right direction, ask 10 people and you will get 10 different answers. There are huge challenges for the car makes in every corner of the word and Ford are moving where they think is best for them and their customers. Only time will tell, lets stick around and see what happens.