Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Ford "almost pulled out of Australia": CEO - How the new Ford Ranger ute saved the Blue Oval from the same fate as Holden Down Under

CEO Jim Farley spruiked the Ranger's success, but admits the company nearly ended its Australian operations.

Ford, the company that sells 2023's most popular new car in Australia, the Ranger ute, almost ended its local operations, according to its global CEO.

Jim Farley, who has been Ford's President and CEO since late 2020, spoke at a recent conference in New York and dropped a surprising mention of the company "almost pulling out" of Australia.

The revelation came during Farley's explanation that the Ford Ranger is a far bigger deal globally than most in the US would realise, mentioning that the company considered leaving the Australian market that would continue to be responsible for developing the Ranger itself.

"So it's funny, we don't really talk about Ford anymore overseas, but we should because our Pro business is very profitable in Europe now," Farley said during a 'fireside chat' at the Wolfe Research Global Auto Conference in New York City - as reported by Ford Authority.

"We have a very small footprint in China. So, we're totally unique among the other OEMs. Not a lot of risk, not a lot of reward, but we have a very profitable Ranger business.

"People wouldn't realise this. The second highest volume vehicle at Ford is Ranger. Ranger globally outsells Super Duty. We are now number two in pick-ups outside of the US and pick-ups are growing big time."

While Ford Australia's most popular model (and the market overall) is the Ranger ute by a significant margin, the US doesn't see the Ranger nearly as close to the top.

Jim Farley, who has been Ford’s President and CEO since late 2020, spoke at a recent conference in New York and dropped a surprising mention of the company "almost pulling out" of Australia. Jim Farley, who has been Ford’s President and CEO since late 2020, spoke at a recent conference in New York and dropped a surprising mention of the company "almost pulling out" of Australia.

Ford sold 1,914,094 cars in the US under its flagship brand in 2023, and only 32,334 of those were Rangers. It sold 750,789 F-Series trucks and even 129,009 Transit vans.

"We sell 5000 Raptors in China for $150,000 each, and we're the best-selling vehicle in Australia," Farley added.

"We almost pulled out of Australia."

Farley didn't elaborate on the statement, instead moving on to discuss Ranger being the only model it sells in South America, but the side note by the CEO is almost certainly one made with relief that the brand didn't follow through.

While Australians would certainly lament the brand going the way of GM's Holden and leaving the country, Ford itself would lose the development headquarters for its globally important ute.

During the mid-2010s would have likely been when Ford pondered its pull-out, given the brand had once been one of two automotive giants in the nation and was readying itself to pull the plug on the iconic Ford Falcon in 2016.

Jim Farley, who has been Ford’s President and CEO since late 2020, spoke at a recent conference in New York and dropped a surprising mention of the company "almost pulling out" of Australia. Jim Farley, who has been Ford’s President and CEO since late 2020, spoke at a recent conference in New York and dropped a surprising mention of the company "almost pulling out" of Australia.

By 2020, Ford's place in the country had become more stable, with the Mustang providing a 'sporting' icon customers could still appreciate while the Ranger ute (and to some extent its Everest SUV sibling) provided a strong, consistent base of sales.

While the Ranger was the country's most popular car in 2023, Ford Australia was the third-most popular car brand in terms of new-car sales, the Blue Oval racking up 87,800 deliveries - 63,356 of these were Ranger.

Ford's local presence is limited in terms of variety of offerings, with the local boss recently having pointed out the company is focused on the "unique needs of Australian customers" after the announcement it would axe the petrol-powered Puma small SUV here.

"Our focus is on vehicles and in segments where we can really meet the unique needs of Australian customers. We see particular opportunities in commercial vehicles - from Transit to E-Transit, Transit Custom to E-Transit Custom, alongside Ranger," said Ford Australia President and CEO Andrew Birkic.