CANBERRA – Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd. President Tom Gorman takes the blame for the company’s poor sales performance in October.

Gorman says a poorly executed phase-out from the outgoing inaugural edition of the performance-tuned BA Falcon to the launch of its second-generation replacement – the MkII – hurt overall Falcon sales and dropped Ford further behind rival Holden Ltd. in Australia’s large car chase.

Ford fumbles Falcon launch.

“There's no one to blame but myself,” he says.

“We didn't do as strong a job as we could have in the run-out of the BA (series I), you can't hide from that fact,” Gorman says, revealing that dealers eased off on marketing the Falcon and concentrated on the easier sale of the new Territory SUV.

Ford Australia sold 3,745 Falcons compared with 6,140 for the rival Holden Commodore, leading Ford Australia to “one of the worst (large-car) segment months we have ever seen,” Gorman is quoted as saying.

Ford’s poor showing equated to it getting 28.6% of the large-car segment, while Holden grabbed 49.8%. Ford's share of the entire passenger-car market in October was just 11.3% and its share through 10 months is 14.3%, down 1% vs. like-2003.

Despite the slide, Gorman says orders for the Falcon are strong and he believes the auto maker will claw its way back by the end of the year.

“Our order bank is up 13% over the prior month, so we go into November and December with pretty strong order banks,” he says. “Falcon orders were up 21%.”

While Falcon sales struggle, Ford’ Australia’s sales are running 4,500 units ahead of like-2003, thanks in part to the record pace of growth in the overall market.

In addition to the strong market, Ford Australia has the Territory to thank for its success, Gorman says. In eight months on the market, the SUV has become the best-selling vehicle in its class.