2003 Sydney Auto Show Page 2

October 26, 2003

Ford heads into new Territory

2004 Ford Territory

2004 Ford Territory

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Ford Australia claims its 2004 Territory wagon will be Ford Motor Company’s first crossover vehicle, even though the wagon will remain limited to right-hand drive markets.

The Territory goes on sale in Australia on June 1, 2004, but will be right-hand drive only and powered by a 245-hp (182 kW) 4.0-liter in-line six cylinder. No V-8 engines are coming, but a 240 kW turbo six is a good bet.

Ford revealed the complete vehicle at the Sydney Show. It will be sold in two- and four-wheel drive, five- or seven-seat options, and in low or high series specification. It will be Australia’s first home-grown all-wheel drive crossover SUV as opposed to GM Holden’s Commodore wagon-derived Adventra V-8.

The Territory is expected to vastly undercut Holden’s Adventra pricing by about 20 percent, with a starting price about $40,000 (US$28,000) for the rear-drive model. The all-wheel drive version will be about A$3000-A$5000 more.

Optional features will include Hill Descent Control, an enhanced version of Land Rover’s system while Volvo safety devices such as the side curtain airbags (another first for an Aussie-built vehicle) will be fitted to high series models.

The Territory was first revealed as a concept 18 months ago, but two production ready versions were displayed in Sydney. One appeared minus its left hand doors and B-pillar, unlocking the secrets of its flexible interior for the first time. Equipped with a third row and a slide-forward second row of seats, the Territory can hold seven adults. Both rear rows fold flat for extra loading capacity. In excess of 30 storage compartments including a unique lockable under seat tray big enough for a laptop computer, are highlights.

The actual show car is a working prototype that has already covered 40,000 km on test, so the public were kept at arms length by placing it on a turntable.

“We didn’t have the resources to build a car for people to sit in,” said Ford Australia President, Geoff Polites.

The Territory is based on the platform of the right-hand drive Falcon sedan but with all new front suspension and revised Control Blade IRS. Unlike Holden’s Adventra or the HSV Avalanche, the Territory has a completely fresh skin and will seat up to seven adults. Mr. Polites said revealing the Territory at the show eight months ahead of launch would give the show’s 300,000 visitors the chance to see the car and compare it with the Holden, which is already on sale.

“You’ve got to educate the customers in order to get to the volumes we want to reach, about 30,000 a year,” Polites said.



Mitsubishi Australia gears up for bigger year in U.S.

The 2004 model year Mitsubishi Diamante sets sail from Adelaide, Australia this week, hoping to rescue the model’s fortunes in the United States.

Sales of the 2003 Diamante 3.5-liter V-6 sedan are well down on 2002 when almost 17,000 were sold. This year, only 8000 will be sold. The revised model should return to about 1000 a month through 2004.

The Diamante, revealed at the New York Motor Show this year, introduced Mitsubishi chief designer Olivier Boulay’s new “Global Styling” for Mitsubishi products. A sporty VR-X model is expected to help raise the Diamante’s profile in an increasingly competitive and depressed market.

The all-wheel drive sedan version developed in Australia will not be exported in left-hand drive because the projected return on investment for LHD development proved insufficient. At present, all-wheel drive is not signed off for the next-generation Diamante due in 2005 in Australia and 2006 in the U.S.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited will export 12,000 vehicles in all this year to markets as diverse as the Middle East and New Zealand, down from 24,000 in 2002, but expected to rebound to about 20,000 worldwide in 2004.

MMAL Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing, Bill Pike, recently visited the U.S. to discuss sales projections for the 2004 model and returned buoyed.

“There is renewed enthusiasm for the car. I met with the new Mitsubishi CEO in U.S. to discuss how to position and market the car,” he said.

The Diamante, sold in Australia as the Verada (and its down-spec cousin Magna) have made little impact in facelifted guise in the first two months on sale, despite a fulsome spec list and attractive pricing. But MMAL executives put the slow start down to dealers having to clear stocks of the old car, denying the bold Boulay styling has polarised buyers.

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