Australians have always had particular needs and tastes when it comes to new cars, and official new-vehicle importers are starting to seize upon them.
Most blue-oval fans will agree the 1971 XY Falcon represents “peak Ford” in Australia.
This humble-looking three-box sedan earned its place in Australian life not only as a family car but also a muscle car and racing car. It later became a popular first car for those of us who got driver’s licences when they were still made of paper.
You might remember these old-timers. Perhaps you have fond memories of them. I certainly do.
My mum had one. It was our family car when I was a kid growing up in suburban Melbourne. I cherished it. And fortunately, we’ve kept it in our family.
The XY Falcon’s origins sit with the 1966 XR model, an all-new car marketed locally back then as Australia’s “Mustang-bred Falcon”, a smart publicity move that linked this new button-down Aussie sedan to its cool two-door American cousin.
That subtle connection was a big deal because the ’66 XR Falcon was developed for the Australian market. It represented a further break from America by giving Aussies another new car that was more about us and not the US.
In terms of product development it certainly worked, selling in strong numbers and taking out Wheels magazine’s Car of the Year award.
I got a reminder of all this when my brother and I decided to restore mum’s car a few years ago.
For decades, Australia’s new-car buyers could choose from a big range of locally made cars. That all ended in 2017. Since then, official vehicle importers have kept stoking Australia’s love affair with new cars.
Broadly speaking, global automakers create their cars according to business plans and engineering models that let them satisfy the majority of buyer types in major new-car markets.
And they do it in ways that avoid the need to make too many product changes in each of these countries, whether it’s to meet legal compliance or consumer tastes, for example.
But its effectiveness doesn’t always address every market-specific desire. Carmakers know this, so they sometimes use a “regional approach”, where specific models are made for certain markets and not others. They can go even further and create country-specific models, something Australians enjoyed for decades with cars like the Ford Falcon.
Some automakers, however, know Australian buyers still appreciate local flavour in the new cars they buy. Nissan’s a great example. Their Navara PRO-4X Warrior by Premcar enhances an already-proven off-road pickup with OEM-level localised engineering, tuning and equipment, satisfying the Australian market’s desire for a 4×4 dual-cab ute built to suit local conditions.
It’s a great case study of a Premcar new-vehicle enhancement program. It’s performed so well Nissan extended it to their Navara SL model grade. And they recently announced another Premcar new-vehicle enhancement program, this time for the mighty Nissan Patrol.
OEM-led locally enhanced new vehicles offer deep opportunities in Australia.
They’re a cost-effective way to earn larger slices of market share and many years of customer loyalty.
It might not be viable for some global carmakers to create Australia-specific models. But a local secondary manufacturing program with Australian vehicle engineering and enhancements – tailored to local conditions and tastes – certainly is.
Premcar’s proved it for a long time now.
Ford’s US HQ knew the value of satisfying Australian needs more than 60 years ago. It was evident in my mum’s XY sedan as my brother and I slowly made our way through it. From the suspension mountings to the way the doors dust-sealed; you could see it in many places, including the car’s overall styling.
It was a reminder Australians have always had local needs and tastes when it comes to new cars.
They’re still there, waiting to be satisfied.
Bernie Quinn – Engineering Director, Premcar Pty Ltd
About Premcar – Premcar Pty Ltd is a leading Australian vehicle engineering business that specialises in the automotive, defence and aerospace industries. For more than 25 years, global car-makers have made Premcar their go-to partner for the complete design, engineering and manufacture of niche-model new cars, full-scale new-vehicle development programs, and electric vehicle (EV) conversions and manufacturing. As the name behind more than 200,000 new cars and 55,000 new-vehicle engines, Premcar’s body of work is extensive and has delivered technical and sales success for major car brands from Europe, the USA, Japan, China and Australia. Visit premcar.com.
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