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Ford almost quit Australia: Farley

UPDATED 27/02/2024


FORD Motor Company director and CEO Jim Farley said Ford was ready to quit Australia, the company’s stay of execution reliant on the sales of just one model – the Ranger utility.


Speaking at the Wolfe Research Global 2024 Auto and Auto Tech Conference in the United States last week, Mr Farley noted that Ford had indeed withdrawn from several markets over the past decade as it works to revitalise its global business operations.


According to a transcript of his Q&A session with Wolfe Research analyst Rod Lache, Mr Farley said Australia was also in Ford’s firing line, although he did not determine at which point the brand was on the brink of Joining rival Holden in being axed altogether Down Under.


“We don’t really talk about Ford anymore overseas, but we should because our Pro (light commercial) business is very profitable in Europe right now,” he said.


“We have a very small footprint in China. So, we’re totally unique among the other OEMSs. Not a lot of risk, not a lot of reward, but we have a very profitable Ranger business. People wouldn’t realise this.


“The second highest volume vehicle at Ford is Ranger. Ranger globally outsells Super Duty (F-250 – F-600). We are now number-two in pick-ups outside of the US and pick-ups are growing big time.


“We sell 5000 Raptors in China for $US150,000 each, and we’re the best-selling vehicle in Australia – we almost pulled out of Australia,” he noted.


A Ford Australia spokesperson told GoAuto that Mr Farley was “illustrating the change to our business that occurred when we stopped manufacturing vehicles in Australia, and the turnaround that has led to Ranger being Australia’s top-selling vehicle in 2023”.


Mr Farley’s revelation comes following the significant cutting of engineering jobs in Australia over recent years, and the slashing of models including the midsize Escape SUV and petrol-powered Puma light SUV.


Further back, Ford withdrew engine manufacturing from Australia in September 2016 and production of its longstanding Falcon range along with the Territory large SUV a month later, ending a local manufacturing lineage dating back to 1928.


At the present time, Ford Australia continues to focus almost solely on its Ranger product, the vehicle outselling other entrants in the importer’s portfolio by a significant quota.


The Ford Ranger was Australia’s best-selling vehicle in 2023 with 63,356 units delivered. The Ranger pipped the second-placed Toyota HiLux by 2245 sales (61,111) and third-placed Isuzu D-Max by 32,154 unit sales (31,202).


Ford’s Ranger-based Everest performed well in the sub-$70K large SUV segment with 15,071 sold last year, the model placing second behind the Toyota LandCruiser Prado on 20,710 units.


In the sub-$80K sportscar segment, the Mustang sallied a second-place standing behind the Subaru BRZ, finding 1475 homes for the calendar year (against 1573 BRZ sales).


Elsewhere, however, the Blue Oval struggled to make headway.


The Ford Transit Custom fell well short of the sales numbers achieved by Toyota’s HiAce (7133 versus 2843) while so far in 2024 the all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E that launched late last year has been comprehensively outsold by Kia’s EV6 and the Tesla Model Y.


Ford’s now-defunct Ford Escape medium SUV amassed just 2336 sales across 2023, a fraction of the number achieved by the segment-leading Toyota RAV4 (29,627 units).


In the next segment down, the Puma – which will return as an all-electric contender next year – also performed poorly, tallying 2027 sales for the calendar year, some distance behind the category’s top-selling Mazda CX-3 (15,776 units).


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