Those of you familiar with the motoring scene in Australia would’ve heard of the Ford Territory, a mid-size five-seater SUV developed exclusively for Australia. It was a fairly popular model on Aussie roads but production ended in 2016, along with the closure of Ford’s manufacturing operations in Australia and with that, the Territory nameplate faded away.
Two years later, Ford has announced that the Territory nameplate will be revived for use in another part of the world – China.
However this China-only Ford Territory has no relation with the discontinued Australian SUV of the same name. Instead, the model is derived from a Yusheng S330 (below) but Ford would prefer that we call it the result of a joint development with JMC.
Yusheng is a domestic passenger car brand owned by Jiangling Motor Corporation (JMC), one of Ford’s two local partners, the other being Changan Automobile Co.
Ford’s press release has only a single front three-quarter shot of the Chinese Territory so we don’t know how the rear looks like, but the back of the S330 looks very much like a copy of a Range Rover Evoque.
Pictures of the interior suggests that cabin is largely the same as the Yusheng, with Ford replacing the original Yusheng’s analog instruments with a full LCD screen, as well as giving the dashboard a new surface layer. Changes include the new air-conditioning vents, infotainment, centre stack, and centre console tunnel, all of which have also been redesigned to Ford’s requirements.
If there’s any consolation to the proud people of Australia, Ford’s Asia Pacific product development centre in Melbourne had a hand in developing the Chinese Territory, while vehicle testing was done at Ford's vehicle testing centre in Nanjing.
Australian Ford Territory, discontinued in 2016
Ford has yet to confirm any powertrain details but said that customers can choose between a fuel-efficient gasoline engine, a 48V mild hybrid with Miller-Cycle technology, and a plug-in hybrid.
The car will only go on sale in China in 2019, sold by JMC-Ford of course, which currently only has the Everest in its SUV line-up. Its other China-made Ford models are the Transit and Tourneo vans. The EcoSport and Kuga are sold by Changan-Ford.
The move to introduce an SUV using its local partner JMC’s Yusheng model is likely to be related to the rapid change in fortunes for Ford in China, whose first-half sales this year is the lowest ever since 2001.
Year-on-year, Ford’s sales in China have tumbled by 25 percent, to 400,443 units. Yes, that sounds like a lot, almost what the entire Malaysia sells in a year, but this is China and for a global brand like Ford, that’s actually underperforming. In comparison, Honda sold 609,1000 vehicles in China in the same six-month period.
Among the reasons behind the drop in sales are Ford’s aging model line-up and a lack of SUV models. The gap between the EcoSport and Kuga is too big and Ford needs something like a Honda HR-V to bridge the gap and this Territory is the company’s stop-gap measure.