Ford Australia has axed its ninth petrol-powered passenger-vehicle badge in eight years with the death of the regular Puma – but the electric Gen-E version is still destined for Australia.
The petrol version of the Ford Puma city SUV will be dropped from Australian showrooms by the middle of this year after three and a half years of sluggish sales.
The nameplate will continue in electric form as the Puma Gen-E, due to be unveiled in Europe later this year before coming to Australia at a later date.
It is the latest Ford passenger vehicle to be given the axe as the company continues to struggle to find success with models other than the Ranger ute, Everest 4WD and Mustang sports car.
Since the final Falcon and Territory were produced in 2016, Ford Australia has also dropped the Endura, EcoSport, Escape, Focus, Fiesta, Kuga and Mondeo names.
In some cases (Endura) these nameplates were launched two years before they were dropped, while the Escape name – re-introduced in 2016 after slow sales of the mid-size SUV known as the Kuga – was more than 20 years old.
The final examples of the petrol-powered Puma are due in showrooms in May 2024, and Ford says it has “stock on the ground to fulfil all current customer orders.”
The facelifted version unveiled for Europe tonight (below) will not come to Australia. Click here for more details on that vehicle.
Once the final examples are sold, Ford will no longer offer a petrol-powered hatchback, sedan or SUV – and excluding the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV, no four-door vehicles that are not based on a ute or van.
The Puma – built in Romania – was introduced in late 2020 to replace the Indian-built EcoSport, and shares its underpinnings with the defunct Fiesta city hatch.
Since launch, 8250 examples have been reported as sold – with 3218 deliveries in its best year, 2021. Prices started from $29,990 plus on-road costs in 2020.
The Ford Puma won the Drive Car of the Year Best Light SUV award three years in a row – 2023, 2022 and 2021 – but it was the third-slowest selling model with Australian customers in the ‘light SUV’ sales category last year, with 2027 sales.
In a media statement, Ford Australia described the discontinuation of the Puma as “a sharpened focus on [electric vehicles], commercial and performance vehicles.”
“We have not taken this decision lightly and thank the many loyal customers who have chosen Puma over the years,” Ford Australia boss Andrew Birkic said in a written statement.
He said: “Our focus is on vehicles and in segments where we can really meet the unique needs of Australian customers. We see particular opportunities in commercial vehicles – from Transit to E-Transit, Transit Custom to E-Transit Custom, alongside Ranger.
“We will also continue to focus on our performance line-up – from Mustang and Mustang Dark Horse, to Mustang Mach-E and Ranger Raptor – alongside a renewed emphasis on vehicles that help customers do the things they love, like towing a boat or caravan in an F-150, off-roading with friends in an Everest, or road-tripping with a large family in a Tourneo.”
Speaking to Australian media about the Puma in April 2023, Mr Birkic said: “Puma has done well. It continues to win awards. So we know that that’s certainly an important play for us in the future.”