No easy ride for Ford boss

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Paul Gover -

MARIN Burela is com­ing home to a tough job. When he slides into the big chair at Broad­mead­ows the trans­planted Aussie will dis­cover just how bad things are at Ford Aus­tralia, de­spite a long-term plan to turn the com­pact Fo­cus into a new hero and Asi­aPa­cific ex­port con­tender.

Ford has gone badly back­wards in the past 18 months, and not just be­cause it has al­lowed sales of the Fal­con and Ter­ri­tory to slide without build­ing a strat­egy to re­mind lo­cal buy­ers of the cars’ many strengths.

It has also failed to build sup­port for the ex­cel­lent Fo­cus and Fi­esta, failed to cap­i­talise on its V8 Su­per­car suc­cesses, and failed to tell Aus­tralians about the good work be­ing done by a big en­gi­neer­ing team in Mel­bourne that is ex­port­ing brain­power around the world.

And don’t get us started on the can­celled plan to put a diesel into the Fal­con.

Burela be­gan his ca­reer at Ford Aus­tralia and should be a good choice to lead the com­pany. But he is an un­known who ar­rives af­ter the trou­bled times un­der Tom Gor­man and the too-short reign of Bill Os­borne, who quit early to take what he says is a ‘‘dream job’’ at home in the US.

No one knows what to ex­pect from the new boss, but Burela has a strong track record.

Be­fore be­com­ing pres­i­dent of Ford Aus­tralia he was the ve­hi­cle line ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, global small car seg­ment ve­hi­cles. That job is based in Ger­many, so he knows all about the small-car strengths of Ford, in­clud­ing the com­ing Fi­esta and the new Fo­cus that will en­ter lo­cal pro­duc­tion in 2011. He has also worked at Jaguar and Land Rover.

Burela be­gan his Ford ca­reer as a grad­u­ate trainee 25 years ago. Se­nior jobs in man­u­fac­tur­ing, sales and mar­ket­ing and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment have given him the all-round ground­ing needed to lead a com­pany as di­verse as Ford Aus­tralia. He was last here in 1998.

He will face many chal­lenges in his new job, and cars­Guide wishes him well.

I’d like to say ‘‘good luck’’, but Ford needs more than luck to drive for­ward.

It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how Burela goes about mak­ing his mark at Broad­mead­ows.

Marin Burela

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