BOB Graziano may have the toughest job in Australian motoring. He has to defend Ford, and do it at a time when there are far more questions than answers.
Ford Australia has plenty of international development work and is recruiting engineers for Broadmeadows, but there is plenty of bad news — and rumours— clouding the future.
Ford’s showroom result in January was miserable. No one is sure if the locally made Falcon will continue beyond 2015.
There is talk of a rebadged American Taurus, a failure once before in Australia, to carry the Falcon forward into a front-wheel-drive future.
And the Territory has been overtaken by Korean and Japanese rivals while Ford has dithered on everything from a diesel engine to quality and design improvements.
Graziano is the latest president of Ford Australia, a job that’s been a revolving door in recent years. He comes from China with an impressive track record at overseas postings.
‘‘This country is special, as we’re beginning to find out,’’ he tells me this week.
‘‘If you look at our total business, and what the team has done over the past several years, they have done a tremendous job on building a sustainable business.
‘‘What I’m focused on now is to add new technologies to this outstanding platform.’’
But Graziano ducks the tough questions, answers none of the speculation and generally tries to give the impression everything is fine at Broadmeadows. But it’s not. He’s even wearing rose-coloured classes on the sales disaster in January, when the Falcon was 13th on the list of Australia’s favourite cars.
‘‘If we deconstruct January, year on year, we saw very encouraging signs,’’ he says.
‘‘It was a best-ever month on Fiesta, a good month on Focus, Territory same, and the private buyer was very strong on Falcon.’’
It’s not easy being blue at the moment, as Graziano will discover. But what matters is rebuilding confidence in the future of Ford in Australia.