Thailand coming into Focus
Asia is growing in importance for Ford, writes Stuart Martin
FIRST it was Ranger, now Fiesta and soon Focus could be floating towards Australia from Thailand. Ford has switched the source of its Fiesta hatch and new sedan to the shared Ford/Mazda factory in Rayong.
But Ford Australia marketing general manager David Katic is coy about speculation over the future supplier of Australian Focus variants.
‘‘We haven’t said anything about Focus and we’re not going to,’’ he says.
But the Blue Oval is building a new $500-million factory next to its AAT Rayong plant to build Focus for the Asia-Pacific region, which would logically include Australia.
Focus models sold in Australia are now shipped from Pretoria, South Africa, though it was planned to build them at Broadmeadows until those plans were canned last year. The company receives cost and tax benefits from bringing the Fiesta into Australia from Thailand and would benefit from a similar price break with a Focus sourced from the same region.
Ford is keen to increase its small-car slice of the market, starting with cutting order turnaround times and increasing supply to get more cars to consumers.
‘‘We’re at the stage where our dealers can’t aggressively market the Fiesta product because they haven’t got them.
‘‘They are desperate for more stock because they see people come through the showroom door every day looking for a car quickly.
The Ford small-car hero, Fiesta Econetic, remains a European-sourced vehicle, but is expected to receive some of the upgrades of the Thai-built Fiesta later this year.
Katic says the frugal diesel has made big changes to the Ford image and the company is looking at ways to expand the Econetic.
‘‘We did some research just after we launched that car,’’ he says.
‘‘People were saying that they had no idea Ford had this sort of capability when it comes to green.’’
‘‘We’re looking at strong, fuel-saving technologies across the range, however we get there— Econetic or something else . . . the Fiesta has told us there is a strong market there for us.’’
Advantages: Thai-built Fiestas mean cost benefits for Ford.