RECALCITRANT FORD SCOFFS AT CRITICS OF ITS SHAMELESSLY DOMESTIC AMBITIONS IAN PORTER
Ford Australia has risked the wrath of the Federal Government and jeopardised the outcome of the current Productivity Commission inquiry with a strong rejection of the need to export.
Ford exports fewer cars even than Mitsubishi - and then principally to New Zealand - and has made virtually no contribution to strong overseas sales, which now approach $5 billion a year.
Successive governments have for decades urged the industry to export and have designed industry assistance around the theme of ``export or die''.
If the Productivity Commission perceives the industry is not interested in exports, that may further harden its attitude towards industry assistance on the grounds that, if exports are seen as being in the national interest, then not exporting must not be in the national interest.
Ford was an enthusiastic exporter in the late 1980s and early 1990s when it gambled heavily by developing the Capri convertible out of the Ford Laser/Mazda 323 range.
This model was designed principally for the US, but was sunk by the simultaneous release of the best-selling Mazda MX5 convertible and quality control problems, particularly with weather sealing.
It went into a steep sales decline in 1991 and 1992 and was a major factor in cumulative losses of $280 million between 1990 and 1993.
Ford, once again struggling to stay in the black with the relative lack of success of the AU Falcon range, has built a business plan based almost solely on the domestic market for the foreseeable future.
``There is not much to tell you (on exports),'' Ford president Geoff Polites told a press conference on Wednesday. ``There is no plan,'' he said.
He said a combination of a similar product elsewhere in the Ford world, and an expected lack of capacity at the Broadmeadows plant, meant there was no room for an international marketing push.
``We have a large, rear-wheel drive, left-hand drive car in the corporate stable called the Crown Victoria and that's the one we send to the Middle East, so that effectively locks us (Ford Australia) out of the Middle East market.''
Export pacesetters Toyota and Holden send the majority of their exports to the Arabian Gulf region. Mitsubishi sends most of its exports to the US and has started marketing efforts in the Gulf region.
``Again, I'll make the point: exports are about capacity,'' Mr Polites said.
``That's why you do exports, to sell your capacity. If the market does what we think it will do and our products perform the way we think they will perform, then we will be at capacity in the very near future.
``Our task is to sell capacity and the cheapest way to sell capacity is to sell it domestically, quite frankly,'' he said.
Mr Polites said exporting was a marginal business and did not offer strong returns.
``There is 20 million units of excess capacity in the world right now and about eight million of that is wandering the world looking for a home.''
He said Ford was not in the export business, it was in the import substitution business.
This was a reference to the all-wheel drive (AWD) Falcon variant, code-named E265, which will cost $500 million to bring to market.
Mr Polites said he expected Ford's domestic sales would pick up in 2003 after the launch of the revised Falcon range this September.
Those gains would be consolidated and enlarged with the launch of the AWD sports utility wagon in 2004. This model is aimed at the fastest-growing segment of the market, which is dominated by imports.
``The big effect will be in 2003 as we get the benefit of the Barra and the marketing takes effect. Then, hopefully, `04 comes along and E265 drops in on top of it and we really are off to the races,'' he said.
I reckon if you read between the lines GP is dissapointed in the US FOMOCO bosses for not chasing the export $$. It must be financially viable or Holden/GM wouldn't be exporting Monaros and Commie utes. I've heard nothing but favourable reactions from US folk that have seen our Falcons (in particular the XR8 and T-Series), and the number that they would be importing to USA wouldn't harm Crown Victoria sales. Or maybe FOMOCO USA feel threatened by Aussie Falcons that might show up their home grown product. This is just an opinion because I've never actually seen a Crown Vic in the flesh.
You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen. It said, 'Parking Fine.'So that was nice.
The problem for Ford oz is the crown Victoria and the Mustang and the Maurder thing which is a two door Crown Vic.
Holdens got it easy cause GM has recently axed all of its versions of theses (caprice, Camaro, Firebird etc)..
I think Ford OZ is going forever to be stuck in OZ, unlike perhaps what Holden can do, and become a Volvo or something like that, a global brand. Belive me theres serious talk of killing Vauxhall and renaming it Opel or perhaps Holden, then theres talk of renaming Chevy in South Africa, Holden and selling some small volume commodores in the USA badged as Holdens or HSV's..
Ford OZ is not going to be a exporting powerhouse, but export markets exists. Small but important. HSV exports to the UK are worth gold to the brand, they are getting a serious respectable name for making big fast fun saloons, even if they are shoddy in comparison to BMW or Merc.
If Ford OZ could export 5-100 of its top models to UK or even Japan it would do wonders for tickford/Ford Oz. The idea is to be seen as a global player, with global quality able to function in tough markets.
Why do you think Lincon and chevy are trying desperately to get into the UK/euro market? Credability.
Heres my interesting but unrealistic plan for Fords OZ exportings..
-Push the new AV XR8, AV ute and AV T series/ LTD in the UK aim for ~100 cars every 6 months, get evo to review/compare the dam thing.. If your not in evo or 5th gear or Car forget about it. You want exposure remember..
-Aim for 100 cars in japan, hell badge it as a Mazda. In japan they have nearly killed off all the large "luxo barges" they used to unprofitably make. a Twin turbo 4.0 stright six DOHC with sat nav, 6 speed gearbox, Aston martin brakes, with wild body kit giving it a boxy stance will sell. A large LTD V8 32 valve car will sell simply for the freak out factor. Hell if the 5.4 is too big, fit the 4.6... Tell the japanese its british.. Get tickford UK to tinker it. Piss nissan off and name it Mazda Falcon GT-R.. Nissan is gridlocked on the decision of V8 or V6 turbo, because either way its going to be hard to keep the GT-R fanatics happy.. Contrivsey could be interesting.. Mazda owes Ford OZ something for pissing all over the capri.. I know it wasn't there fault, but why not push things..
-Push harder into NZ, push into South Africa, can't be too hard to outsell the commodore in south africa.. . 38 cars a month should do it.
-Talk about possibly making a Aston martin Four door in Australia.. Talks can fail, but publicity should linger for a while.
-Take a few cars to the us and let US magazines drool over it, if you hit the right nails, you could buy alot of interest and stuff.. Maybe hook up a 5,000 a year export deal.. Make them test the medium RWD market with the Falcon first.. Before losing billions on a car people may never want.
Its easy to get carried away and throw away billions in export deals.. Shoestring is the word.
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