FORD will retire the Ford Territory nameplate in the same way it is retiring Falcon once dealer stock of the Australian-made duo is depleted in coming months – all with the aim of giving the car a dignified send-off.
But the move to shelve the Territory nameplate that was used on Australia’s only SUV – a car that went on sale in 2004 and finished production in October 2016 – is also about returning Ford to a family of SUVs that start with the letter E.
In launching more variants of the Everest and reviving the Escape nameplate for Australia, Ford Australia chief executive and president Graeme Whickman confirmed the company would adopt Ford’s global SUV naming strategy, where all SUV models start with the letter “E”.
Whickman said it was all about trying to “harmonise our global approach in terms of nomenclature”.
“We’re going to have everything that begins with E sitting in this market,” Whickman said.
That means Ecosport, Escape, Ford Everest and – hopefully – Edge, although that last one is still up for debate.
In a small way, Toyota holds the ace card in Ford’s plan to return its SUV range to a line-up of Es. That’s because Toyota holds the rights to the Edge nameplate for Australia, something Ford is hoping to use on the US-sourced Edge SUV that is slated to arrive in 2018.
Whickman wouldn’t give any clues as to the likelihood of relinquishing the Edge name, instead saying Ford was working through the process.
He didn’t anticipate the recent spate of Ford ads that have specifically targeted various Toyota models would impact on any decision.
“I’m sure they’ll make a business case decision. I don’t think for one minute that they’ll be tainted by any emotion.”
One thing that isn’t up for discussion, though, is using the Territory name on future Ford SUVs.
“Territory is a vehicle that’s close to Australians’ hearts … you’ve got to treat that in a way that’s proven but also respectful, graceful way. My view is that if I had to choose, then I might be looking for a new name.”
Whickman said retiring the Territory made sense given the decision to do the same thing with the Falcon nameplate that had existed in Australia since 1960.
“We wanted to retire a nameplate with some dignity and respect. The Falcon meant we had a legacy we could build on and we wanted to take that legacy,” said Whickman.
“I think they [Falcon fan] would have been unhappy if we’d put that name on a vehicle that didn’t live up to the legacy or the history that vehicle has.”
Whickman also ruled out letting its trademark on the Falcon name lapse, potentially paving the way for another manufacturer to utilise it.
”There’s a very easy answer to that – no.”
So, what about the Edge if Toyota Australia didn’t want to give up – or sell – the Edge name?
Whickman refused to talk details, but hinted a name starting with E would be logical, given the desire to focus on that letter with all other Ford SUVs.
“For us we want to have a globally aligned, One Ford global approach … if that’s something that doesn’t transpire in terms of its availability then we’ll look at other options,” he said. “Many of our SUVs are in that ‘E’ space, we’ll be looking at that sort of thing.”
One option could be Excursion, a name previously used by Ford on a hulking SUV offered in the US. The nameplate has since been retired, but could easily be revised for the Australian version of the Edge – if Toyota doesn’t play ball.