FORD Australia has confirmed the much-speculated Ford Edge mid-size SUV will plug part of the hole left in showrooms once the locally made Territory ends production – although it will arrive 18 months after the last Territory is built.
Ford Territory production is expected to end around October 7, the date on which the last Falcon is expected to roll off Ford’s Broadmeadows production line.
However, stocks of the Aussie-made SUV are expected to take about six months to clear Ford showrooms. With Ford Australia confirming this week – after much speculation – that it will bring the Edge here in early 2018, it will leave Ford with a gap of about a year before it has another five-seat soft-roader to slot in between the empty nester-friendly Kuga and the towing-oriented Everest. It will also leave Ford without a direct competitor to take the fight up to the likes of the Toyota Kluger, Mazda CX-5 and the Hyundai Santa Fe.
“It [the Ford Edge’s arrival in Australia] will be about a year after we finish selling the Territorys, and for us that was the best, most opportune time to procure the vehicle and launch it into the market,” Ford Australia president Graeme Whickman said.
Ford Australia’s decision to hold out on the Edge, a vehicle that has already launched in left-hand-drive markets in 2014, is also curious given that a Canadian-built five-seat right-hand-drive version of the SUV is already on sale in Britain.
However, the carmaker is believed to be sitting on the Edge so that it can potentially launch it here with a fresh mid-life update to what will be a four-year-old vehicle, as well as adding a seven-seat spin-off of the vehicle (pictured, below) that is currently only made for, and sold in, China.
When pressed, Whickman declined to say Ford was waiting for a seven-seat version to arrive before launching the Edge.
“Other than confirming that the vehicle is coming as an all-new SUV, based on the Ford global Edge, the opportune time is to ensure we’ve got a vehicle that we are happy with in the market, that is tailored to the market and one that has broad appeal to the Australian consumer demands,” he said.
According to Whickman, the Australian SUV market has shifted from when the Territory was launched in mid-2004. Ford’s main focus, he said, was now on global nameplates such as Edge. Smaller SUVs such as the Ford Ecosport and Kuga were finding more buyers among empty nesters, while customers needing towing capacity were shopping higher up the Ford range with vehicles such as Everest.
The loss of the Territory will cost Ford about 7000 sales in 2017 at the current rate they are moving out of showrooms – enough to potentially drop it behind rival brand Nissan in the 2016 sales race. However, Whickman says it aims to bring Everest’s price down – potentially below $50,000 – by offering a five-seat, rear-wheel-drive version of the Ranger-based SUV.