Ford’s rollercoaster ride
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.