New CEO for Ford Australia
Man behind Ranger, Everest steps up.
Ford Australia and New Zealand has a new President and CEO, following the appointment of Andrew Birkic to the top job.
Mr Birkic (pictured below), who played an integral role in the global success of the Australian-developed Ford Ranger and Everest vehicles, replaces Kay Hart, the organisation’s first female president and CEO, who departs to take up a global role as Enterprise Product Line Manager, Van and Bus, based in Europe.
A statement from Ford Australia said Mr Birkic, who was Chief Product Marketer – Ranger and Everest, will be based in Melbourne, as was his predecessor. He will report to Mark Ovenden, President, Ford International Markets Group, based in the UK.
“Andrew is a highly experienced and engaging leader who brings a wealth of insights into the evolving needs of customers,” Mr Ovenden said.
“Andrew’s passion for bringing vehicles to market that truly serve our customers, his breadth of understanding of the local market, and his global expertise will serve as a strong foundation for the continued progress of the business.”
The statement said Mr Birkic has held a variety of roles with Ford in Australia, Asia and the US over the past 26 years.
As chief product marketer for Ranger and Everest, he ensured the requirements of customers from different global markets were considered.
He also has global responsibility for developing pricing, series and positioning strategies for future vehicles, working in collaboration with the product development team in Melbourne.
Prior to his current role, Mr Birkic spent three years in Detroit as Global Advanced Consumer Experience Platforms Manager, and two and a half years in Shanghai as Director, Dealer Development and Consumer Experience for Ford Asia Pacific.
Before this, Mr Birkic held a variety of leadership positions across marketing, sales and the Ford Customer Service Division at Ford Australia, where he began his career in 1994.
“I am thrilled to be re-joining the fantastic team in Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Birkic said.
“I know how passionate and accomplished the team is, having spent the past two years working with the Ranger and Everest development team to grow the brands across more than 180 markets.”
In his new role, Mr Birkic will be responsible for Ford’s National Sales Company (NSC) in Australia and New Zealand, including marketing, sales and service, dealer relations, and customer satisfaction.
Mr Birkic succeeds Kay Hart (pictured below), a New Zealander and 21-year Ford veteran who took the reins in July 2018. Ms Hart was the first CEO during Ford Australia’s post-manufacturing era, after her predecessor Graeme Whickman oversaw the closure of the company’s manufacturing operations in Campbellfield and Geelong, Victoria.
Like most car makers, Ford Australia’s sales figures have taken a hit in 2020, with June year-to-date sales down 18.7% per cent versus 2019.
From a once dominant position where it vied with Holden for market leadership, the company now holds a solid fifth spot, with 6.1% market share, behind Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Mazda, and market leader Toyota.
Despite shuttering its local manufacturing operations in October 2016, Ford Australia remains a key product development hub for Ford globally.
The organisation has invested more than $1.9 billion in research and development in Australia between 2016–19, with an additional $500 million planned for 2020.
Ford is also Australia’s largest automotive employer, with more than 2500 engineers, designers, technical, automotive and other specialists working at four locations across Victoria.
Mr Birkic’s appointment comes as Ford Australia and New Zealand is preparing to launch the all-new Ford Puma and Escape SUVs, including the brand’s first electrified vehicle, the Escape plug-in hybrid (PHEV).