Ford Territory-a hit in Australia
When Ford of Australia began developing the Territory SUV for the Australian market, an early inspiration was the Swiss army knife.
"A Swiss army knife has every gadget under the sun and can literally do anything in any situation," said Interior Design manager Marcus Hotblack. "We wanted the interior of Territory to be like that. The Swiss army knife embodies the whole multi-function nature of Territory."
Inside and out, the Territory was designed and engineered to meet the wide range of Australian lifestyles, from typical urban driving to off-road adventures. The Territory’s flexible seating and all-wheel drive, for example, are advantageous for outdoor activities, while its upscale look and people-carrying ability are desirable for navigating Australian cities.
"The idea for Territory began, as all great cars do, by recognizing a customer need," said vehicle director Russell Christophers. "Extensive market research established a growing need for a vehicle combining the best characteristics of family sedans, traditional SUVs and people movers."
Christophers took the lead in developing the Territory concept in 1999. In a process similar to the current development of crossover vehicles in North America, Ford of Australia identified three key consumer desires.
Family sedan owners loved their cars’ performance and handling, but wanted roomier vehicles able to carry families or large amounts of luggage for vacations.
SUV owners loved the command driving position and the interior versatility, but wished their vehicle could handle more like a car than a truck, particularly in city driving.
People movers (also called multi-activity vehicles) offered great practicality, but many commented on the lack of "style," which they perceived as not being upscale enough.
"In the middle lay an area for a hybrid vehicle that could offer the best of all those vehicles, a sweet spot waiting to be hit," Christophers said.
The result was the Territory, a five-seat SUV-like body with optional seating for seven, built on a car platform. At the time of its launch in 2004, the Territory was the only Australian vehicle available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive models.
The Territory boasts an exceptionally strong passenger safety cell and was the first locally manufactured vehicle available with a head-protecting side curtain airbag. Territory was also the first Australian-built vehicle to be fitted with a stability control system — Dynamic Stability Control (DSC).
The Territory also comes with an optional reverse-sensing system that detects objects behind the vehicle and alerts the driver. Standard on the Territory Ghia and Ghia Turbo models, and optional on Territory TS, is a reverse camera with a fisheye lens capable of providing a 130-degree wide angle view of up to 15 metres behind the car.
Ford was aiming for a sweet spot in the market and found it with the Territory, the top-selling SUV in Australia for 27 of the 30 months it has been on sale. Despite only being on sale for seven months of 2004, it finished the year as the second-best selling SUV overall. It was No. 1 in its segment and overall in 2005 and is on track to repeat that feat in 2006.
The Territory’s sales come in a market that hit an all-time record in 2005. Current forecasts indicate the 2006 Australian market will be down slightly, but still heading for the second best year on record. In Australia, the Territory is classified as a medium SUV, a segment that this year has been relatively neutral in terms of growth. With the market in Australia, as with many countries, gravitating towards smaller vehicles, the Territory’s strong showing is even more impressive.
The Territory competes with the Toyota Prado, both vehicles being the only ones in the medium SUV segment that consistently sell in excess of 1,000 units each month. With the recent addition of a turbocharged performance model, the Territory also competes with more expensive SUVs like the BMW X5, Lexus RX330, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Porsche Cayenne.
A runaway hit in Australia, the Territory is now exported to New Zealand, South Africa and Thailand.