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Discussion Starter #1
AV Article from fridays paper:

Daily Telegraph 21-07-2001

Ford Australia boss Geoff Polites is "pretty comfortable" that his designers have done enough to win back buyers disaffected by the ill-fated AU Falcon. But the Ford president says engineering and launch costs associated with the facelift model -- due for release in the second half of next year -- will keep the company profitless until 2003.

"I visited the design studio today and had a long, hard look at the car," Polites says. "I feel pretty comfortable with what we've done.

"You can never be sure with these issues -- my predecessors probably felt comfortable with the AU.

"But research we've done is pretty positive.

"We've done a lot of work on this car."

The second major facelift to the Falcon could determine whether Ford Australia gets the nod from its global parent to build the next all-new Australian big car, due for release in 2004-05.

Certainly, the "half-life" update will have to be quite dynamic for Falcon to get back on terms with its long-time rival, the Holden Commodore.

Falcon lost the 1997 big car battle by a meagre 4993 units after selling 71, 850 sedans and wagons.

The following year, Ford faithful jumped ship in large numbers following the September launch of the AU, with most of the criticism aimed at the rear-end slope-off styling.

The new car finished its first year 25,884 sales behind Commodore.

Last year the gap was 23,150 -- despite a $40 million remake and relaunch as the AUII. In the first six months of 2001, 42,235 Commodores were sold compared with a paltry 24,944 Falcons -- a gap of 17,291.

The Falcon's woes will grow dramatically within months, when the VXII facelift Commodore comes to market to keep sales ticking over.

Polites, understandably, is not giving details of changes to the AUII -- nor the initials by which it will be known.

"It has new front and rear-end sheet metal," he said.

"The car is progressional. It retains the roof and doors."

The Ford chief says the company is on target to meet this year's break-even budget.

Last year Ford Australia lost $16 million -- its first deficit since 1993 -- following a $83 million profit in 1999.

"Our objective is not to lose money this year," he says.

"It's going to be touch and go because we have such enormous engineering expenses going on at the moment relating to the Falcon up-date. Next year we' ve got a lot of launch costs.

"If we can break even this year and next year, we'll be doing OK."

Polites has confirmed he still wants to produce a four-wheel-drive version of the Falcon.

"An all-wheel-drive Falcon would depend on whether we can get the business case up," he says.

"It's not an easy business case to get up.

"We would be applying in an environment in the United States which is not conducive to spending money. The corporation has tightened up a lot.

"I wish I was going last year for approval -- I would have got a lot better hearing."

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2,153 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
another one..

BILL TUCKEY, BRW 20-7-2001

The car company's retail adventure has not been a success, WITH slow sales and dealer hostility

Ford Australia is secretly negotiating to buy out unhappy dealer shareholders in its revolutionary 50:50 retail joint venture, less than a year after it started. The move comes hard on the heels of the June 26 announcement by Jac Nasser, the Australian-raised, Detroit-based chief executive of Ford Motor Company, that Ford will sell all its holdings in similar enterprises in the United States, and quit the retail business. Meanwhile, Holden has publicly affirmed it will be staying with the traditional factory-dealer franchise system.

Ford Australia is believed to be offering dealers 90¢ in the dollar for their shareholdings. It is aiming for an 80% stake in the joint venture, which would allow it to divide the alliance into four large dealer groups led by the strongest Sydney operators. BRW understands that by July 13, at least three shareholders had agreed to sell and that more would sign during the following week.

The retail joint venture (RJV) was set up in September last year to co-ordinate sales and marketing programs and gain economies of scale by merging logistical, training and parts warehousing. However, two large Sydney dealers stayed out from the start;

the joint venture (which has 1500 employees) is on its fourth chief executive; and on several occasions over the past 18 months, Ford's share of the Sydney market - Australia's largest - has fallen below 10%, compared with the company's national average of 13.5%.

Ford set up the first retail joint venture in Australasia in 1999 by merging six dealerships in Auckland, New Zealand.

Early last year, it created a similar business with seven dealers in Perth. Ford has been trying since then to set up a retail joint venture in Melbourne, but several key dealers were not interested. In early July, Ross McKenzie, the executive vice-president of sales and marketing at Holden, told a conference of the Australian Automobile Dealers Association: "I looked at what Ford had done and worried about it when they did it ... from the point of view of trying to see what Ford was on about. I struggle to see how you can be on the wholesale side of the fence and also on the retail side."

A Ford Australia spokesperson confirms the company has made an offer to shareholders in the Sydney retail joint venture. However, Keith Williamson, the Australasian director of Ford Investment Enterprises, the international body

(headed by Australian David Blackhall) that co-ordinates these joint ventures worldwide, denies any connection between the US decision and Ford Australia's move. "The US got into dealer collections for different reasons," he says. "They haven't told us we have to get out." He says Ford has no intention at this stage of dismantling its joint ventures in Perth or Auckland.

BRW understands that the Sydney RJV dealers were paid multi-million-dollar amounts by Ford to join, on the condition they left half of it in the RJV as equity. Williamson refuses to reveal any financial details about the buy-out offers, but confirms that negotiations are taking place. "Some shareholders are unhappy ... they don't have faith in where it's going." He says some dealers had become used to running their own business in a hands-on way, without a lot of long-term planning and patience. The Sydney RJV has a seven-member board, so not all dealer shareholders were involved in all the decision-making and planning. Williamson says Ford's Sydney market share is usually one-and-a-half or two percentage points below the national average.

One industry analysts says: "Many dealers are very dissatisfied with the relationship with Ford. They feel the company has lost a lot of its best and most experienced senior talent and they are dealing with young people focused on surviving and ensuring a career path."

Holden's McKenzie told the AADA conference that the franchised automotive dealer might be on the "endangered species list". Manufacturers have been cutting costs in component supply, manufacturing, and employee numbers. "The last frontier of cost to the manufacturer is distribution," he said. "There's a hell of a lot of high-paid consultants running around the globe, shiny-arsed MBAs offering lots of theories on how to do distribution direct.

"I can only conclude that, in fact, Ford's intention is to take over distribution. But the thing that bothers me about it, particularly when you consider that it isn't travelling well, is that I don't think you can go back. You make the call and you make the change and I don't think there's any way to put the genie back in the bottle."


Ford Investment Enterprises launched the retail joint venture concept in the United States in 1998 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A year later it extended it to California, New York and Utah. It was driven by an urge to cut the cost of distribution, which accounts for almost 30% of the retail price of a car, and to stop big companies buying blocks of retail outlets.

The head of the national Ford dealer council, Texas dealer Jerry Reynolds, says Ford's chief executive, Jac Nasser, told his dealers that the company had learnt a lesson "about how tough it is to make it in the retail world". In 1999, General Motors started buying US outlets with plans to acquire up to 10% of its US dealers, but a furious reaction from dealers forced it to back down early last year.

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2,153 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
no more light IRS?


THE collapse of ambitious plans for a $1.7 billion light metals industry in central Queensland is a blow to state economic growth. Under the Australian Magnesium Corporation plan, more than 2000 jobs would have been created but, more importantly, the development of spin-off industries such as car component manufacturing and other value-added operations would have secured a "sunrise " industry for a state too reliant on primary production, tourism and mines. A key component of the plan was for the giant Ford company to take 45,000 tonnes a year of metal from the plant near Rockhampton. As this commitment remains, the project is by no means doomed, but AMC has suffered a substantial blow in failing to raise the necessary $680 million in equity to satisfy bankers. Naturally, the project's collapse has also yielded a bout of political finger-pointing with Queensland's Labor Premier, Peter Beattie, linking Federal Industry Minister Nick Minchin's failure to back the magnesium mine to a rival project in the senior Liberal Minister's home state of South Australia. It is extremely unlikely that any federal industry minister could fhconvince Cabinet colleagues of the merits of any sweetheart deal for the home state, even if the obvious political fallout could be ignored. Indeed, Mr Beattie must accept that the Federal Government had already pledged $50 million for the project; and the value of any further federal contribution is questionable.

Mr Beattie, on behalf of the Queensland Government, offered AMC an extra $50 million investment through Stanwell Power in addition to its previously offered $50 million in direct infrastructure support: taking total taxpayer support to $150 million. If the project is not viable with $150 million of government support, then prudent financial management of taxpayers' funds makes any further investment impossible, given the history of failed government investments which litter Australia's history. As it stands, it appears that financial markets were concerned about the four-year lead time for the project and concerns about American growth prospects. Too often, the focus on quarterly profit reports by markets means that potentially excellent long-term investments such as the AMC project are ignored.

But governments should not rush to invest in projects which have been spurned by the markets.

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2,153 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
last one..


JAMES STANFORD, Herald Sun 21-07-2001

IT WOULD never make the finals of a motoring beauty contest, but the Winnebago motor home has a job to do. The Falcon ute-based machine carries holiday- makers and a motel-room full of gear across the country, eliminating the need for a clumsy caravan.

Winnebago takes a Falcon ute, adds two wheels and has a fibreglass shell bolted on the back with all the interior goodies.

The Winnebago Falcon, which can be driven with a standard car licence, costs a hefty $76,530, but comes with a long list of features.

There is sleeping space for four people, a shower and toilet, an LPG stove and grille, a dining table, fridge and large glass windows.

The roof has been made without seams and is sealed with a water-proof rubber coating.

Solar panels, a TV and a VCR, an external shower and a microwave oven are all options.

Customers also have options when it comes to the Falcon ute.

They can choose from six-cylinder and V8 engines, as well as automatic and manual gearboxes.

The great art of motoring

PETROL heads are can now be art lovers, too, collecting paintings of muscle cars.

There are seven limited-edition prints in the collection, which includes the most-loved road-going versions of Bathurst supercars.

The first print in the Cooper and Knights collection is the all-conquering 1971 Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III.

Five hundred of the sketches will be sold at $750 each.

Next month there will be a treat for Chrysler fans, with the release of another 500 prints, this time of the mean E49 Charger.

Other cars to be painted include the Holden EH F4, the GTR XU1 Torana, the HT GTS 350 Monaro ,

the Ford XT GT Falcon and the XC Cobra Coupe.

An impressive amount of attention was paid to the detail of each painting, with artist Fred Briggs checking with car enthusiasts that he had portrayed their cars accurately.

"Authenticity is paramount," Cooper and Knights general manager Robert Knights says.

"You have got to be accurate because the guys who love these cars know every nut and bolt. "

He says a print of a Falcon GT-HO was taken to a Ford club to make sure it was spot-on.

"We thought it was pretty authentic, but they picked up about 20 faults," Knights says.

The faults were minor, such as the height of the antenna, but Briggs was determined to make sure the drawing was perfect.

"These cars are crucial when it comes to muscle car history," says Knights, who says that the GT-HO Phases III Falcon painting is his favourite.

"The GT-HO III is the most important and highly recognised Australian muscle car," he says.

The paintings can be ordered on 1800 223 331 or from the website

3,544 Posts
Do you do any work or do you just read newspapers all day?!!;)
Interesting reading, thanks! I was considering investing some money into AMC when I heard that they had a contract with Ford Oz but the whole deal looks to be on shaky ground now.
Those sketches look OK but way overpriced IMO.

Ford Member
1,156 Posts
Well all interesting reading.

The Dealership plan has failed, it was always going to be tough, and is not helping ford much.

The magnesuim contract was a long way off venture, its uncertiancy is also mirrored with Ford Oz uncertiancy. Ford will get metal from else where.

I hope the face lift was worth it, otherwise Ford may disapear. :eek:
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