Boss has faith in the Fal­con

Ford prom­ises that Aus­tralians’ skills will be put to good use, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

THE top man in the Ford world has plenty to say. Alan Mu­lally hit Aus­tralia this week to lobby the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment for sup­port, to drive the lat­est Fal­con, talk to Blue Oval work­ers and face a small group of jour­nal­ists.

The Ford Mo­tor Com­pany pres­i­dent was re­laxed and up­beat as he an­swered the tough ques­tions, flanked by Ford Aus­tralia boss Bill Os­borne and Asia-Pa­cific hon­cho John Parker. Here is some of what he had to say about the key is­sues for Ford Aus­tralia.

How healthy is Ford Aus­tralia?

‘‘I think it’s in, for where we are, a ter­ri­ble busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, I think it’s do­ing very well. I mean this is a tough, tough busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment right now world­wide.

‘‘Why would you as­sume we’re more vul­ner­a­ble than some of our com­pe­ti­tion? One of our key com­pe­ti­tion has al­ready gone on record that their ex­port pro­grams are un­prof­itable.’’

What is the fu­ture of the Fal­con?

‘‘There’s al­ways go­ing to be that kind of prod­uct and we think we have a great ve­hi­cle with Fal­con, and we’re go­ing to con­tinue to make sure we have a great ve­hi­cle.’’

Will it con­tinue as an Aus­tralian car?

‘‘The ex­per­tise we have in larger ve­hi­cles in Aus­tralia will be utilised in Aus­tralia for as far in the fu­ture as I can see.’’

Will the Fal­con con­tinue with rear-wheel drive?

‘‘It will be driven by what the cus­tomer wants and val­ues, and es­pe­cially fuel econ­omy and per­for­mance.’’

What about pro­duc­tion rates for Fal­con?

‘‘In the near term we’re go­ing to match pro­duc­tion to real de­mand, which means we can make fewer ve­hi­cles in the near term, but our com­mit­ment is to con­tinue to in­vest in new ve­hi­cles for the fu­ture to what peo­ple re­ally do want in value.’’

Why was the Fal­con not ex­ported to the Mid­dle East?

‘‘Well, we don’t have a left-hand drive ver­sion of the Fal­con . . . and frankly, in all hon­esty, the Mid­dle East is a re­gion I guess hasn’t been within Asia Pa­cific’s purview within our re­spon­si­bil­ity. It’s been han­dled through the US ex­port mar­ket’’

‘‘The fact is, we don’t have a left-hand drive prod­uct for that mar­ket, other than the Crown Vic­to­ria. So it’s a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment to con­vert the Fal­con to left-hand drive.

‘‘The Holden and Camry prod­ucts were orig­i­nally de­signed for left and right-hand drive, so there’s no in­cre­men­tal in­vest­ment to en­ter into that mar­ket. For us to move Fal­con into that mar­ket would be an in­cre­men­tal in­vest­ment.’’

Why build the Fo­cus in Aus­tralia?

‘‘We’re the first com­pany to an­nounce that we’re go­ing to make a small to medium-sized car to sup­ply the Aus­tralian mar­ket place. Ev­ery­body else is de­pend­ing on large cars, which we all recog­nise is a seg­ment of the mar­ket that will con­tinue to shrink, whether it’s in Aus­tralia or glob­ally.’’

‘‘We’ve recog­nised there are clear-cut con­sumer trends mov­ing and we need to re­act to them, so we’re putting the car into man­u­fac­ture as quickly as we can. We need to wait and make sure we’re bring­ing it in at the beginning of a cy­cle.’’

Why has it taken so long to ad­just?

‘‘You can ques­tion why we didn’t do that some years ago, why weren’t we more fore­sighted, but this is where we are.

Do­ing well: Alan Mu­lally says Ford is per­form­ing in a tough busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment.

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