Storm battered Ford car sales

3 February 2012
, CarsGuide
Storm battered Ford car sales
... a mix of Falcon and Territory were being stored in the open and took the full force of the weather.

Ford Australia only delivered 931 cars in January, down even from the miserable 1157 start to last year's sales for the one-time local favourite.

The overall Ford total lifts to only 2135 vehicles once the Melbourne-made Territory SUV and Falcon ute are included, still behind the 2170 Holden Commodore sedan deliveries for the first month of 2012. And trailing the baby Focus on 1576.

The January numbers show the Commodore was beaten for the first time in January by its locally-made sibling, the compact Cruze on 2445, while the Mazda3 was overall number one with 4045.

Ford said it was hit badly by a giant storm on Christmas Day that pelted its Broadmeadows site with car crumpling hailstones. Around 1000 cars, a mix of Falcon and Territory, were being stored in the open and took the full force of the weather.

"It was a shocking storm. They really took a hit," a spokesman for Ford Australia, Neil McDonald, revealed to News Limited.

"It was on Christmas Day. The cars were at the plant, waiting to be shipped to dealers and then on to customers."

The hailstorm is only one in a series of recent disasters for Australia's three local carmakers, as Toyota has just cut 350 jobs from its factory at Altona and Holden expects to shed as many as 200 contract workers during a re-organisation of production at its plant in Adelaide. Both decisions are based on falling export sales.

Ford was forced in early January to inject $103 million into its local operation in joint funding from its global parent in the USA and the Federal government to provide security for local manufacturing through to 2016.

The January results, revealed in official VFacts sales totals, are no real surprise.

Large car sales are traditionally down in January because government departments and big fleet customers are not buying, while Toyota is still getting up to speed with its new Camry - so 1290 sales - and the Mazda3 is still powering off the back of its best selling performance in 2011.

The January total is a little better than the first month of 2011, with a total of 76,783 sales for a 4.3 per cent lift, but passenger car sales were down slightly and needed bolstering as usual from the strength in SUVs.

As usual, Toyota was Australia's favourite brand in January, ahead of Toyota and Mazda.