Ford’s roller­coaster ride

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - CRUISE CONTROL | -

DE­SPITE doom and gloom fore­casts there will be life af­ter lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing for Ford – if the brand’s topsy turvy week is a guide.

In the same week Ford posted its fifth year in a row of mas­sive fi­nan­cial losses – to­talling $1.05 bil­lion – it scored a cou­ple of small but sig­nif­i­cant wins.

Ford out­sold Holden for the first time this cen­tury – it’s been 17 years, since Jan­uary 1999 – and the Ranger 4WD ute knocked off the Toy­ota HiLux 4WD for the sec­ond time in four months.

The April re­sult means Ford, af­ter 11 years of sharp de­cline, has posted growth for the sixth month in a row.

Ford has started to turn the cor­ner, even though its fac­tory clo­sure is just months away (Oc­to­ber 7).

Holden has a longer road ahead. Still ahead of Ford yearto-date, it is on track to post its worst sales re­sult in 23 years, hav­ing been beaten by Hyundai ev­ery month so far this year.

Holden has a raft of new mod­els on the way, in­clud­ing an up­dated Colorado in Au­gust and an new As­tra in Novem­ber, but the lo­cally made Com­modore still ac­counts for the ma­jor­ity of sales.

When its fac­tory closes in late 2017, Holden sales will take an­other dent.

Ford has made the U-turn with­out many of us re­al­is­ing it; Holden is yet to en­ter the turn. Toy­ota won’t get off with­out some col­lat­eral dam­age when the Camry fac­tory in Al­tona closes af­ter Holden in late 2017. Toy­ota is push­ing Camry sales hard be­cause it has a fac­tory to run un­til its clo­sure.

Once there isn’t a fac­tory to keep alive, true de­mand for Camry will be cut in half or more. Toy­ota may not lose the No.1 po­si­tion it has held for 13 years in a row but brands such as Mazda, Hyundai and Ford (and even­tu­ally Holden) will be­gin to claw back lost ground.

Buy­ers will be the win­ners as the brands com­pete for their dol­lars. AGE­ING mod­els and slim mar­gins have led to the demise of the Nis­san Mi­cra, Pul­sar hatch and diesel Y61 Pa­trol in Aus­tralia.

The brand will do with­out the light car, small hatch and SUV for 18 to 24 months once ex­ist­ing stocks run out later this year.

Nis­san Aus­tralia boss Richard Emery says the move is an ex­ten­sion of his “qual­ity over quan­tity” ap­proach to the busi­ness since tak­ing on the top job in 2014.

The de­ci­sion to drop the Y61 Pa­trol wagon and crew-cab and the Mi­cra is largely based on their age and the need to up­grade the en­gines to meet Euro 5 emis­sions if they were to con­tinue to be sold lo­cally af­ter Novem­ber 1.

The ax­ing of the Pul­sar hatch range re­flects the com­pe­ti­tion within the small­car mar­ket.

In a seg­ment where hatches are the dom­i­nant sell­ers, Nis­san says only 45 per cent of its Pul­sar sales are five-doors.

Mr Emery said the busi­ness case mer­ited killing off the un­der­per­form­ing mod­els “though I have no doubt some of our ru­ral deal­ers will have a tear in their eyes over the Y61”.

He says the short-term fo­cus is to off­set the pro­jected loss of 6000 sales by im­prov­ing sales of its Qashqai, X-Trail and Pathfinder SUVs.

Pathfinder is up about 500 sales a month.

“We don’t need ex­tra mod­els in the mar­ket, we need to do a bet­ter job with the ones we’ve got,” he says.

SATUR­DAY MMAY 7 2016

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