Shoe’s on the other ute

Ford’s Ranger is set to eat into sales of its work­horse sta­ble­mate

Herald Sun - Motoring - - What’s On -

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.

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