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Holden, Ford, Toyota car sales not as bad as they seem

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    Holden says it is committed to local manufacturing for the long haul

At first glance, 2011 sales figures look dismal for the local carmakers.

Holden lost the top spot its Commodore held for 15 years, Toyota's Camry still leads its class but is nearly 6000 sales behind 2010, and the numbers for the Ford Falcon are . . . well, dismal.

Imported small cars are biting deeper and deeper into the homegrown heartland and no-one is better on a serious future for the Falcon and Commodore beyond 2018 - at the latest.

But drill a bit deeper and the news is not necessarily as bad as it looks.

Yes, Falcon only managed to find 18,741 new friends last year and that number is impossible to sustain. For a start, there will be no money for future development.

But Falcon sedan numbers now have to be combined with the Territory SUV - which is really a new-age replacement for the Falcon wagon - and Falcon utes.

When you combine the three, production from Broadmeadows rises to 39,411. That's still not brilliant, but it's not a disaster.

And remember Ford was without its crucial LPG model for much of the year, and has is about to introduce its EcoBoost four-cylinder Falcon to win government and fleet sales.

"We're putting our money where our mouth is, and investing in the future of this product. I see that the glass is half full. I'm positive," the new sales and marketing director of Ford Australia, Brad Brownell, tells Carsguide.

Across at Holden, the story is the same but different.Commodore numbers are down but GM Holden has already hedged its bets by diversifying into production of the compact Cruze in Adelaide.

So its local production needs to combine the two - even though there is distortion with some Cruze imports - to get a true number.

Doing that, as well as adding the ute, and Caprice numbers, Holden's total goes from 40,617 for Commodore sedan up to something beyond 85,000.

Holden says it is committed to local manufacturing for the long haul and that looks true, with the Cruze set to eventually overtake Commodore as its local showroom headliner.

And Toyota? Well, its factory at Altona is geared for 50 per cent export and the Middle East slide has been far worse than Australia through the global financial downturn.

Through 2011 the Camry and Aurion were also into runout ahead of an all-new model. So the 2011 result of 28,084 cars will jump considerably through 2012 with full production of Camry, V6 Aurion and Camry hybrid, as well as increased exports.

Would Toyota be spending $350 million on a new engine factory in Melbourne if it was not committed to local production? No, exactly.

Things are still tough, and both Ford and Holden are fighting hard to justify any future investments to their head offices in Detroit, but  Federal Industry Minister Kim Carr says he is bullish and is in Motown this week for meetings with company chiefs during the Detroit motor show.

So there is lots of uncertainty, and Ford is definitely leaning away from a unique Ford Falcon, but it's a long time yet until the fat lady sings.

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 8 comments

  • Its true David that Ford have had less recalls then Holden over the years, but I wouldn’t extrapolate from that, that their cars have less problems.

    The simple truth is Ford is loathe to do recalls and will try anything else to avoid them and the cost associated with them. Thats everything from service bulletins and treating customers cars one by one as the customer finds the fault in their car, or simply ignoring faults and quietly slipping a fix in the next model.

    If the media catch up with them, like the Territory ball joint fiasco they will belatedly revise the parts and do a recall. In the case of the Territory that was several years after the fault was first known about. Until the media got on it, Ford was fixing them on a case by case basis and hoping the problem would go away.

    Meanwhile the rust issues in Territory were never fixed and if customers didn’t pick up on it, the warranty would expire and they were in for a nasty surprise in years to come.

    Hardly a glowing reference for Ford, but only two examples of many.

    In the end a company that recalls its cars is standing by their product. I would hope Ford would do a better job of that in the future.

    Daniel D Posted on 22 March 2013 10:58pm
  • Ford is entertaining all its users. It is an ultimate car and gives great deal of luxury and comfort. In today time, ford is a good market element and has perfect features giving a royel look to the car and style to the driver.

    Steve Parker Posted on 17 January 2013 5:38pm
  • Sorry, but the numbers are as bad as they seem. 

    There is no point blaming the Americans, or the government, or the media or Little Bo Peep for that matter. 

    The fact is that very few people are actually interested in buying a Falcon (or a Camry, or a Commodore, for that matter). 

    Given that some 85% of purchases of locally manufactured cars are made by fleets (govt & private), we can estaimate that only 2800 private purchasers (‘mums & dads”) bought a Falcon in 2011. 

    The market speaks.  It’s up to the manufacturers to listen, and respond.

    rkr of Sydney Posted on 17 May 2012 9:09pm
  • Once more again it does seem like a media bash up of Ford. Ford has been a part of this great nation longer than Holden. In the 1940’s it was bailed out by the government and now again ,whats worse is the workers wage rises will force them out of the labour market and yes again without subsidy the G.M parent company will move to close australian operations down. I am sure that at some time I read a carsguide article relating to the falseness of holdens sales figures which stated that unsold cars were being counted more than once as ex-factory then as a vehicle sold from a yard. So be fair Ford make good cars and have had less recalls over the years than Holden-also hidden by the media. Give holden their due their advertising is a cut above the rest but companies need to be financially responsible and not reliant on handouts like Holden do!

    DAVID DIILL of Ipswich Posted on 01 May 2012 9:01am
  • @Sarah. I kinda think he’s trying to say that things are not as bad for Ford as some others have been saying. This has the full number in the related story on the left, so he’s just looking at whats going on behind the numbers. But the big problem is that the decisions will be made in the good old US of A, not here. And all they’ll look at it the numbers. Do you think Detroit really cares how much we love our local manufacturers? Pigs USofA they do. They’ll import Fords from India if that’s what makes them the most profit!!!!

    Ant of Sydney Posted on 22 January 2012 12:06pm
  • I agree with Sarah of Brisbane, the media uses Ford as a ‘punching bag,’ fodder for news which will eventually kill the company just as Mitsubishi was butchered.

    T of Adelaide Posted on 22 January 2012 11:54am
  • The article is about three manufacturers, but you seem to target Ford…and not just in this article, but in every article you write. Perhaps you can try to find a new punching bag? You have the specific figures for Ford, but only a ballpark figure for Holden, and no Toyota figure at all. So, you’re either not very good at researching that which you purport to know all about…or you’re doing as you normally do, and targetting Ford…again. It’s really getting old.

    Sarah of Brisbane Posted on 21 January 2012 11:22pm
  • I Know they are not a lot, but your production figures for Ford do not include exports to New Zealand.

    Geoff of Melbourne Posted on 14 January 2012 11:47am
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