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Baby Ranger or new Falcon Ute: Why Ford Australia needs the new Maverick pick-up | Opinion

The Ford Maverick is based on the same C2 platform as the Escape and Focus.

Ford USA has unveiled another exciting new model, and Ford Australia has poured cold water on any chance of that exciting new model reaching local showrooms.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming an all-too-familiar story for Blue Oval fans (or just fans of interesting new cars), with the all-new Maverick joining the Mustang Mach-E, Bronco, Bronco Sport, F-150 and F-150 Lightning as restricted to left-hand-drive markets.

We’ve already written before of our frustration at Ford’s priority for left-hand drive, especially for models like the Bronco which is based on the right-hand-drive-capable Ranger platform, but it continues to deny Australian customers access to some vehicles that have big potential Down Under.

More importantly for the team at Ford Australia, these models have the potential to transform it from its current position as ‘The Ranger Car Company’ into something more broadly popular and less reliant on one model.

The Ranger continues to account for more than 65 per cent of all of Ford’s local sales this year, with the Ranger-based Everest the second most popular.

The Puma and Escape have failed to engage with buyers in significant numbers, the latter is only the 10th most-popular mid-size SUV, behind the MG HS.

So, with the rugged Ranger and Everest popular, and the European-sourced Puma and Escape not, it does lead to the question of why Ford Australia hasn’t been able to forge closer ties to its USA operation to secure models with more potential – including the Maverick, Bronco, Bronco Sport and F-150.

Obviously, there are commercial reasons for this, and the obvious benefits of the right-hand-drive UK market mean Ford of Europe is more likely to introduce models that suit Australia, but our taste in vehicles arguably better suit the USA Ford range.

Unquestionably there would be challenges to securing right-hand-drive production from North America, but it’s not impossible as Holden demonstrated with its Chevrolet- and GMC-sourced models.

While there are some obvious question marks over the reception the Maverick will receive, given the popularity of utes and SUVs in the local market it has plenty of potential – arguably more than anything in the current Ford line-up.

There is an argument to be made that Ford Australia needs to reinvent itself if it wants to achieve significant sales growth. The Maverick would be the ideal model to help begin that process by appealing to the sizable audience for lifestyle-oriented utes that exist here.

With its SUV underpinnings, four-cylinder and hybrid powertrains, and option of front- and all-wheel drive, the Maverick is arguably the closest vehicle to the defunct Falcon Ute.

Ford USA’s press images of the Maverick make it clear who this vehicle is aimed at, pictures of the new model carrying camping equipment, a kayak and mountain bikes as well as tools and hardware are designed to push its credentials as a ute for active lifestyles. There’s plenty of Aussies who enjoy the outdoors and the sorts of activities Ford is pushing, and by entering a currently uninhabited part of the market, Ford would have them to itself.

More broadly there’s an argument to be made that Ford Australia should lean into its success with Ranger and Everest, and push a more adventurous image and introduce more of the US-only models such as the Bronco and Bronco Sport.

And as we’ve written repeatedly, the F-150 would make another good addition given the increasing demand for US-style pick-ups, even with six-figure asking prices. Then there’s the potential for the F-150 Lightning to beat the Tesla Cybertruck and lead the electric ute transition.

But what do you think? Would a more USA-aligned model range help Ford Australia?