Ford revamps set to revive sales
Ford showed its revamped European lineup last Thursday, including a new small sport-utility vehicle to challenge Nissan Motor Co’s Juke, as the automaker pushes to revive sales and curb mounting losses in the region.
Chief executive Alan Mulally and other Ford executives previewed several models to some 2,500 dealers, including the Eco Sport, a compact SUV that will compete in one of the few growing vehicle segments in Europe.
The showcase was designed to prove to Ford’s struggling European dealers that it has attractive new vehicles in the pipeline. So far this year, Ford sales have fallen faster than overall demand in Europe, where the automaker expects to lose more than $1 billion this year and is seeking to cut costs.
“The most important thing we can do is acknowledge the current reality and develop a plan to deal with it,” Mulally said at the event held at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam.
Through July, Ford sales in Europe have slumped nearly 11 per cent, with the overall market down about seven per cent hurt by the deepening economic crisis. In the second quarter, Ford lost $1,125 on every vehicle it shipped to dealers in Europe.
But sales of SUVs, like the Nissan Juke, have been the rare bright spot for the European car industry, executives said. Ford is expanding its SUV lineup and aims to sell 1 million SUVs in Europe over the next six years.
Ford plans to introduce the Eco Sport in the next 18 months and will have a new model of its existing Kuga crossover later this year. Ford also revealed plans to sell the next generation of its medium-sized Edge SUV in Europe.
“Over the past five years, the SUV segments are the only ones to have grown in Europe, and it’s forecast to continue,” Jim Farley, Ford’s global marketing chief, said last Thursday.
“Small is where the real growth happens. The small SUV segment in Europe will double in the next five years,” he said, adding that sales of medium-sized SUVs may grow by a third.
In addition to the SUVs, Ford also showed the updated Fiesta small car, a European mainstay and the Transit commercial van. Ford also plans to sell the Mustang car in Europe, Mulally said.
Dealers also saw the new flagship Mondeo, based on Ford’s US Fusion sedan. The car was scheduled to be introduced in Europe in early 2013, but suppliers were told the launch would be pushed back at least six months so Ford could address production quality issues.