HEAD­ING NORTH

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By NEIL McDON­ALD

HE Fo­cus will be­come Ford Aus­tralia’s fourth Asi­a­sourced car fol­low­ing the aban­don­ment of plans to make it in Aus­tralia.

The com­pany al­ready gets the Es­cape off-roader from Tai­wan and the Ranger ute out of Thai­land.

In the mid­dle of next year the ute will be joined by the Fi­esta hatch.

Now, an as yet un­named Asian plant will be build­ing the nextgen­er­a­tion global Fo­cus sedan and hatch for lo­cal launch in 2011.

‘‘But in terms of the de­tail and what lo­ca­tion in Asia, it is still to be fi­nalised,’’ Ford Aus­tralia pres­i­dent Marin Burela said.

A de­ci­sion is ex­pected within a few months. Thai­land is un­likely, de­spite a $608-mil­lion up­grade to the Auto Al­liance Thai­land jointven­ture plant at Ray­ong, south­east of Bangkok.

Ear­lier this year Ford said that the up­grade would al­low AAT to lift its pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity from 175,000 to 275,000 ve­hi­cles a year, build­ing the Mazda2 and

Tthe Fi­esta for ex­port mar­kets.

If AAT had the ca­pac­ity for Fo­cus, Thai­land would be an at­trac­tive op­tion as Aus­tralia en­joys a free-trade agree­ment and zero tar­iffs with the Asian coun­try.

Burela backed his de­ci­sion to can­cel lo­cal Fo­cus pro­duc­tion.

He said the global car in­dus­try was dif­fer­ent in July 2007, when Ford orig­i­nally an­nounced that it would build 40,000 Fo­cus mod­els a year at Broad­mead­ows, with 15,000 ex­ported to Asian and African mar­kets.

Since then the in­dus­try has been rocked by the im­pact of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

‘‘The eco­nomic cli­mate has changed,’’ Burela said.

He in­di­cated that, to have a vi­able car with the right level of tech­nol­ogy, fea­ture, styling and con­tent, Fo­cus couldn’t be built in Aus­tralia.

ASIA-BOUND: The Fo­cus joins other Fords lev­ing Aus­tralia for Asia

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