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Ford Fiesta now Thai built

Ford is getting cost and tax gains from bringing the Fiesta into Australia from Thailand.

Ford has switched the source of its Fiesta hatch and new sedan to the shared Ford/Mazda factory in Rayong. But Ford Australia marketing general manager David Katic is coy about speculation over the future supplier of Australian Focus variants.

"We haven't said anything about Focus and we're not going to," he says.

But the Blue Oval is building a new $500-million factory adjacent to its AAT Rayong plant to build Focus for the Asia-Pacific region, which would logically include Australia.

Currently the Focus models sold in Australia are shipped from Pretoria in South Africa - although it was planned to build them at Broadmeadows until those plans were canned last year.

"We've had some supply issues with Focus out of South Africa, and that high variation of Focus sales is a result of that," Ratic says. "If you speak to our dealers about that they would say they just need to get some more... we haven't been able to get consistent supply, we're hoping to get some consistency," he says.

The company is getting cost and tax gains from bringing the Fiesta into Australia from Thailand and would benefit from a similar price break with a Focus sourced from the same region. The company is keen to increase its small car slice of the market, starting with cutting order turnaround times and increased supply to get more cars to consumers.

"We're at the stage where our dealers can't aggressively market the Fiesta product because they haven't got them - our dealers will be able to carry more stock. They are desperate for more stock because they see people come through the showroom door every day looking for a car quickly, the dealers are excited because they know what it means for supply for them," he says.

"We're changing sources but they haven't just taken the European car and started building it here, they've improved it and we're confident that we're getting a better car with more features and we'll do even better," he says.

The Ford small car hero, Fiesta Econetic, remains a European sourced vehicle but is expected to receive some of the spec upgrades of the Thai-built Fiesta later this year. Katic says the frugal diesel has made big changes to the Ford brand image and the brand was looking at ways to expand the Econetic.

"We did some research just after we launched that car, people were saying that they had no idea Ford had this sort of capability when it comes to green, that's why we see the Econetic tag as a powerful thing going forward," he says.

"We're looking at strong, fuel-saving technologies across the range, however we get there, Econetic or something else ... the Fiesta has told us there is a strong market there for us."