Ford CEO Jim Farley says the Blue Oval brand almost exited the Australian market entirely, much like Holden, but the Ranger appears to have saved it.

    “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,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said at the Wolfe Research Global 2024 Auto and Auto Tech Conference, with his remarks reported by Ford Authority.

    “The second highest volume vehicle at Ford is Ranger… We are now number two in pickups outside of the US and pickups are growing big time.

    “We’re the best-selling vehicle in Australia. We almost pulled out of Australia.”

    He made this revelation in passing while answering the final in a round of questions from investors, about exchange rates and Ford’s changing lineup.

    Mr Farley also noted the Ranger is very profitable in China, where it sells 5000 Raptors for US$150,000 (A$228,870) each, though he acknowledged the brand has a “very small footprint in China” that brings “not a lot of risk [but] not a lot of reward].

    He also noted the Ranger is number one in South Africa, is the best-selling pickup in Europe, and is “growing and super profitable” in South America.

    It’s unclear when exactly Ford was considering exiting the Australian market. It announced in 2013 it was ending local production in 2016. That year, it shuttered its Broadmeadows factory that built the Falcon and Territory and the Geelong factory that built engines.

    But by the time of its axing, the Territory was already in the process of being replaced by the Everest, which launched in 2015, with the Endura crossover following in 2018 as another replacement of sorts.

    The Falcon wasn’t replaced, but large car sales had been in terminal decline.

    After a height of 135,172 sales in 2004, Ford sales began a steady decline, falling to 70,454 units by 2015. They have ebbed and flowed since, falling below this low watermark on a few occasions.

    Last year, however, they soared 31.8 per cent to 87,800 units, largely on the back of the Ranger and its Everest SUV sibling.

    In 2023, the Ranger ute represented 72 per cent of all Ford sales in Australia – close to the 73.8 per cent of Ford sales the Falcon accounted for back in 2003.

    Including the Everest, models on the T6 platform accounted for 89 per cent of Ford’s sales in Australia last year.

    Appointed global CEO in 2020, Mr Farley was previously the head of Ford’s Global Markets unit from 2017 to 2019, with Australia in his purview.

    Since Mr Farley became CEO, Ford has shuttered its money-losing Indian operations and is scaling back its presence in China as sales struggle.

    The company has also withdrawn from key segments. Ford ended production of the Fiesta last year after 47 years, and the Focus will follow it to the scrapyard come 2025.

    Ford ended European production of the Mondeo in 2022, after having already discontinued its Fusion sibling in North America in 2020. That leaves only the newer, Chinese-market Mondeo, which is also exported to markets like the United Arab Emirates.

    With the axing of the Fusion, Ford’s North American lineup now has only one passenger car: the Mustang.

    Ford Australia has been even more brutal. This year, it announced it was killing the petrol-powered Puma, following its announcement in 2023 it would axe the Escape and exit the mid-sized SUV segment – Australia’s largest.

    That will leave Ford with only the Mustang Mach-E and upcoming Puma Gen-E electric models, plus the Ranger-based Everest, as the Blue Oval’s only SUVs here. The local lineup will instead be dominated by commercial vehicles.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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