Ford NZ has taken the ford out of affordability with its Everest SUV, a seven-seater spun off the chassis of the Ranger light truck and priced between $75,990-$87,990 – roughly $10,000 to $20,000 more than current and future like-for-like rivals from Holden, Isuzu, Toyota and Mitsubishi.
Further, Ford has gotten all uppity and dismissed the immediate opposition – the existing Holden Colorado7 and Isuzu MU-X and upcoming Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, all SUVs of a sort and based, like the Everest, on a truck chassis.
Ford instead compares the Everest (pictured on this page) to established global SUV heavyweights like the Toyota Prado, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Land Rover Discovery4. “We have benchmarked Everest against Prado and Grand Cherokee and developed it to offer New Zealand more than those two,” said Ford NZ communications man Tom Clancy. “According to first impressions we compete easily with these and even Land Rover Discovery.”
Is the diesel-only Everest worth $10,000 to $20,000 more than the $66,990 Grand Cherokee Laredo, which offers diesel or petrol engines and two- and four-wheel-drive? Can Everest seriously challenge the $90,000 Discovery4, or the $88,490 VX Prado?
What about engine output? The Everest’s five-cylinder 3.2-litre diesel engine delivers 143kW/470Nm; the Laredo’s 3.0-litre V6 diesel puts out 184kW/570Nm and its optional 3.6-litre V6 petrol 210kW/347Nm; the Discovery’s 3.0-litre V6 diesel generates 155kW/520Nm; the new Prado’s 2.8-litre diesel 130kW/450Nm.
Is Ford trying to climb every mountain, cashing in on the sales success of Ranger (it has just landed another 1000 Rangers in NZ) and deliberately pricing the Everest high on paper so it has more room to move in a motoring world decorated with discount deals?
There has been more discounting done in the past few years than at any time during the global financial crisis. There will be more now that dairy farmers won’t have as much to spend.
The Everest will land in NZ next month. It’s well equipped, sits on the ladder chassis of its workhorse stablemate and comes in two levels of specification: the Trend at $75,990 and Titanium at $87,990. In Australia Trend costs $A60,990 and Titanium $A76,990
“We have chosen a very well specified two-model line-up to meet New Zealand customer preferences for an on- and off-road capable SUV, with advanced technology, bold design and refined interior comfort for up to seven people,” said Clancy.
Everest’s real-world opposition will be the 2.8-lite Toyota Fortuner, 2.4-litre Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, 2.8-litre Holden Colorado7, and the 3.0-litre Isuzu MU-X. The Fortuner is based on the upcoming Hilux, the Pajero Sport on the just-released Triton, the Colorado7 on the Colorado ute, the MU-X on the D-Max ute.
The Colorado7 LTZ starts at $66,990 and the MU-X $65,990. Fortuner and Pajero Sport are both expected to start around $65,000 when they land in 2016 and enter a market where SUVs account for three out of every 10 new vehicles.
Ute-based SUVs come and go. They are not easy to sell, not in today’s world of more car-like crossover/SUVs. The Hilux-based Forerunner fell off the list of Toyotas years ago, now it is to be replaced by the Fortuner; ditto the Mitsubishi Challenger, to be replaced by the Pajero Sport.
Like their donor utes, they are comparatively cheap to build. In flush times they earn carmakers good money; in tough times they still make money, thanks to the bloated built-in profit margins.
The best example of the light truck money-go-round is the world’s most popular, America’s Ford F-Series. Ford sold 750,000 in the US last year of which 550,000-600,000 were the lighter F150 models. America’s Automotive News estimates Ford’s profit on each F150 at between US$10,000 and US$13,000. Multiply that by 600,000 …