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1. CarsGuide has received many letters about recurrent customer problems with the Territory's front end, specifically ball joint failures (excessive wear to the point of failure). What are your findings on this?
A: We are aware of a small number of customers with ball joint issues which, on investigation, were found to be due to excessive wear and, in some cases, damage related. Most cases were found during the course of routine service and dealt with before any issue arose. Our engineering and service teams are continuing to actively monitor and investigate any incident identified in the field.
2. Carsguide understands this has been known about even during Territory's development. Is this right?
A: Our vehicles are subject to an extremely rigorous development process that exceeds global industry standards and which includes sophisticated CAD and CAE modelling, continued component development, on-road testing (both at our proving ground and on public roads over a variety of surfaces), and a comprehensive engineering review and sign-off process. The Territory ball joints passed this process successfully.
3. The updated Territory gets a new front suspension design. What has changed and has this fixed the problem?
A: In the automotive business it is normal practice to share technology and design changes across multiple product lines. This is normal and good business practice. A new design application for the virtual pivot front suspension was implemented for the FG Falcon in 2008 and Territory received that new suspension design with the recent launch of the SY Mark II. Our process of continual development often sees new technologies developed for either Falcon or Territory that then make their way onto the other vehicle at the appropriate time in the model cycle. One example of this was the introduction of Dynamic Stability Control on Territory when it first launched in 2004 - this technology was then applied to Falcon at the next model update in 2005. This continued development and sharing of technologies reduces production complexity and allows for shared technology across vehicle lines. Specifically, the new virtual pivot front suspension has altered the design application from a tension joint to a compression joint.
4. Brake hose failures. There has been a recall on Territory but what about BA/BF Falcons?
A: The Territory front brake recall is to rectify an issue that is Territory-specific. Despite a very low expected incident rate of only 1.5 per cent and the fact that Territory features a dual, independent braking system that provides braking performance from the rear in case of any issue with the front brakes (as does Falcon), Ford proactively recalled all Territory vehicles in order to ensure the safety and peace-of-mind of our customers. We are investigating a small number of incidents with Falcon front brake hoses although the root cause is yet to be determined. We are continuing to w ork with our dealers and other automotive repairers to gather data.
5. Brake hose failures - there is a dealer alert on rear brake hoses for BA/BF Falcon sedans but not Utes and wagons, why not?
A: Utes and wagons feature a different design for the brake hoses and as a result the service campaign for BA/BF sedan rear hoses does not apply to them.
6. Paint. Carsguide has fielded reports of peeling 'shockwave blue' paint on BF Falcons. How many are affected? Is this actually a problem?
A: We are working with the supplier of our Shockwave paint and have repainted those vehicles that have experienced an issue with no cost for the repair to the customer.
7. Rust. There are reports of rusting on Territory where the paint is thin. Have you had complaints about this? Has the new Territory fixed this?
A: We are aware of a small number of customers, primarily from coastline areas, who have experienced corrosion, which is cosmetic in nature. Where necessary, those cases are being repaired. It is not a broad problem.
8. Customer satisfaction. Are you happy with the efforts of the Customer Relationship Centre in its role to liaise with owners about their cars?
A: We regularly monitor customer satisfaction across all areas of our business. The results for our Customer Relationship Centre continue to be very strong. We are confident that the CRC has the resources required to liaise with our customers to deliver a positive brand experience.
9. The recent JD Power quality satisfaction survey found that Ford's "dealer service" category has slipped 15 points since last year's survey. Is there a problem with dealers?
A: Ford strongly believes that we have one of the best dealer groups in Australia. Our dealers are committed to working closely with us as we continually develop all aspects of our collective businesses. The JD Power survey has such a low sample size that is it difficult to quantify those results and compare them with other industry satisfaction surveys.
10. Reputation. Collectively, are these problems harming Ford's hard-fought reputation?
A: Ford is one of the most respected companies in Australia with 85 years of dedicated commitment to delivering outstanding vehicles across all market segments, which has been endorsed by numerous third party commendations and awards. Our reputation is of the utmost importance to us, which is one reason we invested significant resources to becoming the first Australian car company to achieve a 5-star safety rating for our Falcon sedan range. We are committed to doing the right thing by our customers and will continue to do so long into the future.