Entering new territory
THE Australian-built Ford Territory could be sold in Thailand in rare positive news for local carmakers.
Ford spokesman Neil Mcdonald confirmed the company had shown its SUV at the Bangkok Motor Show, which ended this week, to test the reaction of Asian consumers.
Ford isn’t expecting big volumes, with predictions of about 100 vehicles in the first year, but the export program will boost morale at the factory in Broadmeadows, Victoria, following falling Falcon sales and major government subsidies for the three Australian car producers.
It is the automotive equivalent of selling coal to Newcastle, given Thailand is a major regional production hub for all carmakers. Ford already sources the Fiesta light car and Ranger pickup from Thailand, and will soon bring in Thai-built Focus models.
Ford says it is showing its seven-seat Territory Titanium 2.7-litre V6 turbodiesel model, fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission.
It also notes the Bangkok show marks the Territory’s launch in the ASEAN market, rather than just Thailand — though Mr Mcdonald said Thailand was the focus for now.
‘‘It’s a toe-in-the-water exercise showcasing the topend vehicle as a premium seven-seater,’’ he said.
Thailand imposes a 50 per cent tariff on imported diesel cars and 60 per cent on petrol vehicles.
‘‘The tax situation means we’re focusing on a single premium model in the Titanium turbodiesel,’’ Mcdonald said.
New Zealand is the only other export market for the Territory and takes 1500 of the mid-sized SUVS a year.
This is not the first time Ford has tried to gain a toehold for the Territory in Thailand.
The company exported 20 vehicles powered by its 4.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine in 2006.
The business case went bust when the Thai negotiators for the free-trade agreement added a 60 per cent tax on foreign vehicles that were powered by engines with a capacity of more than 3.0 litres.
Ford is showing the Territory SUV at this month’s Bangkok Motor Show to test consumer reaction