Ford Motor Company of New Zealand
|Limited company, subsidiary of Ford Motor Company|
Automotive industry in New Zealand
|Headquarters||The Ford Building, East Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand|
|Neale Hill (Managing Director)|
|Parent||Ford Motor Company|
|Website||Ford New Zealand|
Ford New Zealand is the New Zealand subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. Its distribution and assembly operations began in 1936 when it took them from the local franchisee. Since the closure of its final assembly plant in Wiri, Auckland in 1997, all of its product offerings are fully imported, from Japan, Australia and increasingly Europe. Since about 1970 its range has been similar to Ford Australia's, with the Falcon model being popular until recent years.
One notable difference between Ford New Zealand's product line-ups and that of Ford Australia has been the medium sized Mondeo from Europe. Whereas the Mondeo was dropped in Australia in 2001, and did not return until 2007, in New Zealand it is one of Ford's best-selling models, particularly in wagon form.
Colonial Motor Company
The Colonial Motor Company originated from William Black's coach-building factory which started operations in 1859 at 89 Courtenay Place, Wellington. In 1881 Black's business was taken over by Rouse and Hurrell, who expanded the business with new three storied premises calling it Rouse and Hurrell's Empire Steam and Carriage Works.
The Ford Motor Car agency was taken up in 1908 and in August 1911 the business was given a new name, The Colonial Motor Company Limited. Following negotiations in 1916 a dominant shareholding and control was acquired in 1918 by Hope Gibbons and his family interests and CMC became the main focus of their business activities. A nine story building was constructed at 89 Courtenay Place in 1922 for motor vehicle assembly. It was the first motor vehicle assembly plant in New Zealand. CMC later built assembly plants at Fox Street, Parnell, Auckland and Sophia Street, Timaru.
In 1936 the Ford Motor Company took over distribution and vehicle assembly establishing a new plant at Seaview near Wellington while CMC retained vehicle dealerships.
Ford Motor Company
The fresh new Ford plant's architecture was the same distinctive pattern as Ford local assembly plants all over the world. On the outbreak of war production shifted solely to military work and, during World War II, Ford New Zealand produced 10,423 vehicles including Bren Gun Carriers as well as 5.7 million hand grenades and 1.2 million mortar rounds. Civilian car production resumed in 1946 which was also the year assembly of the Fordson tractor was introduced in New Zealand. In 1965 a parts depot opened in Auckland leading the transfer of operations from Wellington to Auckland and in 1972 a transmission and chassis manufacturing facility at Wiri, Manukau City. The Auckland assembly plant was also completed in 1972 and began building Falcons the next year. In 1981 an alloy wheel plant was opened at Wiri. By 1987 most operations had been moved from Seaview Wellington to Wiri, Manukau City, Auckland and the Seaview plant was closed in 1988 after 52 years. Ford New Zealand underwent a major restructuring in 1987-88, including relocation of all operations to Wiri.
Products made by Ford New Zealand up from the early 1950s until the 1980s (with exception of the Falcon/Fairmont range, and low volume American product until the 1960s) were predominantly British. Generations of New Zealanders grew up with Anglias (known by many as the "Anglebox"), Escorts, Cortinas, Zephyrs and Zodiacs just as New Zealand's immediately preceding generation grew up with Canadian sourced (for Imperial Preference tariffs) but locally assembled Model Ts, Model As and Ford V8s. All were successful, and in contrast with other manufacturers, the model ranges of all were huge, encompassing many body styles and trim levels.
In common with other countries in the Asia Pacific region, Ford New Zealand marketed the Mazda-based Laser and Telstar, which replaced the British Escort and Cortina in the early 1980s. Unlike Australia, however, the Sierra was sold in New Zealand in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, though generally only available as a wagon.
A wagon version of the Telstar was eventually offered in New Zealand, based on Mazda's GV platform - in fact New Zealand was the only country outside Japan where this body style was available. It continued to be marketed locally, along with a sedan version called the Telstar Orion, until 1997.
This sharing of models between Ford and Mazda led to the creation of a joint venture called Vehicle Assemblers of New Zealand (VANZ), in which Ford New Zealand held a 74 percent equity, following the closure of Mazda's own assembly plant in Otahuhu in 1987. The Mazda 323 and 626, were assembled alongside the almost identical Ford Laser and Telstar until well into the 1990s, in contrast to Australia, where Mazdas were not assembled locally, and Ford had switched to importing those models from Japan.
However, free-market reforms in New Zealand in the late 1980s saw the lowering import tariffs and the flood of used imports from Japan. Many of these were mechanically identical Mazda Capellas (as the 626 was known in Japan), as well as Ford Telstars and Mondeos. In addition, Australian-built Fords like the Falcon, and its GM rival, the Holden Commodore, could now be imported New Zealand duty-free.
With the demise of local car assembly looking inevitable, VANZ finally closed in 1997 (the Lower Hutt assembly plant having already closed in the reorganisation of 1987-1988) and the alloy wheel plant was sold in 2001. Ford New Zealand was now able to look to Europe for its product line-up, with the Telstar being replaced by the Mondeo, and the Laser by the Escort. However, the Asian economic crisis and unfavourable exchange rate meant that the Escort, and its successor, the Ford Focus, was too expensive, and the Laser was reintroduced in 1999. (The Escort wagon, which had been sold in New Zealand since 1996, was retained until UK production finally ceased in 2001.)
Ford New Zealand was a major sponsor of the New Zealand Rugby Union. Ford was the main shirt sponsor for all five of the New Zealand Super Rugby sides from the inception of the Super 12 in 1996 until 2009. The Ford logo on the middle of Blues, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Chiefs and Highlanders jerseys. The All Blacks also heavily featured in Ford New Zealand's advertising campaigns.