Holter thinking bigger for Ford
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NZ BOSS IS NOT RESTING ON LAURELS OF A SUPER 2014. HERE, HE TALKS TO LIZ DOBSON
Ford New Zealand’s managing director Corey Holter is about to celebrate two years in the job and he has already made his mark with the record-buster Ranger, but 2015 is going to be his busiest year.
He’ll launch two new nameplates to the New Zealand market — the large SUV Everest and the iconic Mustang performance car.
At the start of 2015, Ford released two facelift products, the Australia-built Falcon and Territory. More recently the Focus and Mondeo went on sale here.
But it was on January 5, 2015 that Ford New Zealand made news when it was announced Ranger was the top selling-ute for 2014, stomping out Toyota’s 32-year record with the Hilux.
How did you feel when Ranger was No1 for 2014?
Towards the end of 2014, it looked as if it was going that way, so I was pleased for the network, for the customers and in the way it was mission accomplished.
At any stage did you think, “We might not get it”?
The honest answer is yes, I don’t underestimate Toyota as a competitor at all and when they came out and said they weren’t going to do it, we collectively — I spoke with the dealers — decided to go ahead with the plan which ultimately was to sell as many [Rangers] as we could. And the demand was there, we didn’t do anything artificial.
With respect to Hilux and Toyota, 32 years is quite a run, so we didn’t want to be so presumptuous.
Ranger is No1, year to date, thoughts on that?
We are going into run-out, we have plenty of stock and we’ll have a very strong presence at Fieldays.
Let’s just say, we didn’t put all the work in to turn around and lose it.
The other thing we always said was ultimately it’s up to the customer to decide, so our plans are not to go backwards but a lot will depend on customer reaction to the new [facelift] Ranger.
We’re pretty confident, based on the product enhancements coming with the Ranger, that we’ll be top of the table again this year.
You’ve had the Mondeo launch, what’s been the reaction?
The Mondeo has been great. I’m pretty confident that it will move to number one in segment and the customer response, both private and fleet, has been overwhelming.
They’re so impressed with the amount of technology in the car when compare with some of the premium brands.
You’re launching the all-new, Australia-designed Everest in September. What do you think about that large SUV?
For me, the first thing you notice is the stance and how sizeable it is and the 20-inch wheels and size of this vehicle are impressive.
Then you combine that with the capability of it and the appeal it will have with customers who need that capability and luxury touches that it has.
The Territory remains a great vehicle and has done very well
for us, but there are some people who need more capability, and that’s what the Everest will do for us.
So you’ll have another battle with Toyota by taking on the Land Cruiser and Prado?
I guess you’re right, I hadn’t thought of it like that. You’re right if you think about vehicles in our sights, then it’s Land Cruiser, Prado and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The Everest will also be on show at Fieldays along with the Mustang.
How important is Fieldays?
Fieldays is very important for us. It clearly brings out a lot of buyers, and it’s not just utes either, people are buying across the board.
Then the Mustang comes later in the year.
What can you say about the Mustang?
It’s an icon and it’s the first time it’s come to New Zealand in righthand drive from the factory. We’ve already had 300 orders from the dealers, and that’s without doing any promotion, aside from social media.
What’s interesting about Mustang is that everyone understands what Mustang is.
The split between the orders for the V8 and the EcoBoost is also interesting.
Right now we’re getting a lot of early adopters who want the big V8 and muscle, but at the price point that we have, the EcoBoost is going to be very appealing, even in urban setting when you’re after a daily drive, and you don’t need all the power, because you’re going to get plenty of power from the EcoBoost plus plenty of fuel economy. So you might have that to drive around town.
So 2015 is a big year for Ford New Zealand.
The Falcon and Territory had facelifts this year, so in total, it’s seven vehicles launching this year, plus all new engines on the Kuga.
Ultimate we’ll have the freshest product lineup that we’ve ever had, and the greatest number of car launches that we’ve ever had, largely on the passenger side, and that gives up plenty of balance, meaning Ranger leadership and grow on the back of that with passenger.
Sales for the Falcon are down, with the nameplate about to end next year. Are customers buying the Falcon as collectors’ items?
Honest answer is I don’t know. With the XR8, people are buying it because it’s incredible performance for the money.
As far as the XR6, there are certain people who are Falcon loyalists who can see the styling is there, the upgrade it there, and like you said, it’s the last one so time to get one.
The large sedan segment is declining, so is losing the Falcon a big deal?
Yes, you’re right so that segment is in decline so we’ve been looking at the development of the Mondeo, and this could slot into that role.
If you look at the dimensions of the interior of Mondeo, it’s pretty close to the Falcon … ultimately the Falcon doesn’t get directly replaced, but the Mondeo will take up a lot of that business.