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Ford F-Series due in Australia

2015 Ford F-450 SuperDuty.

The US's top-selling pick-up for the past 35 years is coming here, via independent importer Performax.

The Ford F-Series, North America's top-selling pick-up for the past 35 years and the vehicle that formed the basis for the ‘Big Foot' monster truck, is returning Down Under -- via an independent importer who is converting them locally to new Australian Design Rule standards.
 
But an eye-watering starting price close to $100,000 means it won't challenge the Toyota HiLux's dominance of the ute market anytime soon. Instead, the independent distributor hopes to cash-in on baby boomers looking to tow a caravan into retirement, the horse float industry and small businesses that want to make a big visual impact, or tow something heavy.
 
Performax will initially import only the top grades of the current generation Ford F-Series, the Super Duty F-250. Powered by a 6.7 litre turbo diesel V8 (294 kW of power and 1084 Nm of torque) and matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, the F-250 can tow up to five-tonnes -- five times more than Toyota HiLux-style utes, the most popular type in Australia.

However, Performax says it doesn't plan to import and convert the all-new generation Ford F-Series range -- which have widespread use of aluminium in the body and structure to save weight -- until next year. Queensland-based right-hand-drive conversion specialists Performax, who've been moving steering wheels from left to right for 25 years, have imported the Ford F-Series and other US vehicles before.
 
But it has now gained Federal Government approval to convert the Ford F-Series to new standards that will enable the vehicles to be sold in every state and territory. It hired former engineers at Holden and Ford to oversee the upgrades and new conversion process.
 
The company that started out converting Corvettes now dominates the heavy duty pick-up market, importing, converting and selling about 300 US pick-ups each year -- despite most of them costing three times their US price. The Ford F-Series range is due on sale in August priced between $100,000 and $125,000, depending on the model, and US exchange rates.

Performax General Manager Glenn Soper said the new standards mean that buyers of a Performax-converted F-Series will have the assurance their vehicle is "not just a one-off conversion job, but fully-warranted with production-line quality, consistency and parts availability".

"Previously, providers required individual engineering reports for each individual F-truck manufactured," said Soper. "By qualifying for … full-volume compliance under the new regime … the (government) have deemed we no longer need to seek engineers' approval on every vehicle we produce."

Ford last sold the F-Series in Australia between 2001 and 2007; the vehicles were built in the US and converted to right-hand-drive in Brazil and sold at Ford dealers. But unfavourable exchange rates at the time killed the program.

The Performax vehicles will be sold through independent dealers and are not endorsed or warranted by Ford Australia. Despite the engineering upgrade, the crash worthiness of converted vehicles is still unknown in Australia.
 
Converted US pick-ups do not need to be crash-tested to determine whether they meet Australian standards because they are classified as a heavy vehicle. But the company says all airbags and airbag sensors are retained and should perform as the manufacturer intended.
 
The Australian New Car Assessment Program or any other independent authority is yet to crash test a US vehicle that has been converted to right-hand-drive.

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