Shoe’s on the other ute
Ford’s Ranger is set to eat into sales of its workhorse stablemate
Australia, is expected to take even more sales from the Falcon stablemate.
Workhorse utes have risen in popularity in the past decade as manufacturers improved quality to the point the crewcab versions can be used as second family cars.
Most of these models are now also built in Thailand, a low-priced production centre, to take advantage of the country’s free-trade arrangement with Australia.
In 2000, Ford Australia sold 18,384 Falcon Utes according to VFACTS. Last year it sold just 9099. Holden had a similar fate with its Commodore-based Ute.
The Ranger, formerly called the Courier, sold 14,696 last year despite its age.
To the end of August this year Falcon Ute sales have slipped further, 1884 down on the same period last year, which Ford attributes to the loss of LPG-fuelled models.
The introduction of the advanced liquid-injection LPG model this month is expected to boost sales as the old LPG ute had accounted for up to 40 per cent of Falcon Ute sales.
Ford Australia president Bob Graziano says there is a clear pattern. Some buyers are moving from the Falcon Ute to larger workhorse haulers but others are staying put.
‘‘ People are moving across to the pick-ups and that’s where we are seeing the volume going,’’ he says. ‘‘ But the personal utes, the people who want them for lifestyle usage, that remains relatively steady.’’
The loss of the XR8 ute at the end of 2009 has also taken away valuable sales and Ford is in no position to re-introduce the model for at least another year. It is examining V8 options, including engineering a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 from the Mustang or buying in a supercharged version of the FPV Boss V8.