Ford of Europe has announced plans to expand its line-up and increase sales in the fast-growing SUV segment in Europe as well as significantly increase its offering of all-wheel drive (AWD) technologies.
Starting early next year with the Edge large SUV, which debuts at the Frankfurt Motor Show in European specification, Ford plans to launch five all-new or redesigned vehicles that will compete in the SUV and crossover space in Europe over the next three years.
Ford is targeting sales of 200,000 SUVs in Europe by 2016 – a 200 per cent increase compared with 2013. Industrywide, SUV sales in Europe are expected to increase from 20 per cent of total passenger car sales in 2014 to 27 per cent by 2020, according to industry analyst IHS.
“Globally, Ford has been at the forefront of SUVs for decades, and is now delivering a European line-up that offers the stylish design, car‑like dynamics and fuel efficiency that are key to why SUVs have become so popular in Europe,” said Jim Farley, chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe. “As demand for SUVs continues to grow, so will the range that Ford offers – from rugged models with true go-anywhere ability to sporty models designed to suit urban lifestyles.”
In addition, Ford will enhance the popular Kuga model later this year – including offering new colours and adding Ford’s SYNC 2 connectivity technology with an 8-inch colour touchscreen. Ford is also preparing to launch a significantly enhanced version of the EcoSport compact SUV, which includes offering a version without the spare wheel on the rear tailgate along with improved interior refinement, better performance and sharper driving dynamics. These new versions of Kuga and EcoSport will be on display in Frankfurt.
Ford is also poised for SUV sales growth in Russia, with a full line-up of models that includes Explorer, Kuga and EcoSport – and more product actions coming.
Millennial driving force
A new Ford-sponsored survey in Europe* shows SUVs are highly desired by Millennials – those aged 17-34 – indicating Europe’s SUV boom is poised to accelerate as the generation reaches prime new car buying age.
Millennials account for 24 per cent of Europe’s adult population. The new survey shows one in four Millennials in Europe who intend to purchase a vehicle in the next year say they are considering an SUV.
More so than other age groups, Millennials say SUVs make them feel powerful when they drive, are the kind of vehicle they want to be seen in and are more sporty and fun to drive than other vehicle types – according to top strategic research consultancy Benenson Strategy Group.
“The survey makes two important points – the SUV boom in Europe is not a passing fad and young people are not as ambivalent about car ownership as some suggest – especially when it comes to SUVs,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe. “For both rational and emotional reasons, many younger buyers in Europe see SUVs as the perfect choice for them.”
Global SUV momentum
Ford has a deep heritage in SUVs and a comprehensive range in markets across the globe including the EcoSport, Edge, Everest, Expedition, Explorer, and Escape. SUVs accounted for 23 per cent of Ford sales globally in 2013, up from 17 per cent a year earlier.
By the end of the decade, Ford projects SUVs will account for 29 per cent of its global sales spurred by increasing demand in Europe and China. SUV market share in Europe grew from 9 per cent to 19 per cent between 2008 and 2013; and from 7 per cent to 17 per cent during the same period in China.
AWD gains traction
Ford is also rapidly expanding its line-up of vehicles equipped with AWD technologies, which continue to grow in popularity in Europe. With the launch of Edge and the all-new Focus RS performance hatchback early next year, Ford will offer AWD or four-wheel drive (4WD) on eight models – about 50 per cent of its line-up – compared with three models in 2012.
Ford expects sales of its AWD-equipped vehicles in Europe to grow from 46,000 vehicles in 2014 to 70,000 in 2016 – a 50 per cent increase.
“Ford is offering customers the right all-wheel-drive technology for their vehicles and their lives,” said Joe Bakaj, vice president, Product Development, Ford of Europe. “Our Intelligent AWD assesses road conditions multiple times a second and delivers additional grip exactly when and where it is needed. The Ford Performance AWD system in the new Focus RS enables thrilling cornering and handling at the limit. The Ford Ranger rugged 4WD system can handle heavy work and rough terrain.”
The new Edge SUV will feature as standard Ford’s Intelligent AWD technology, which measures how car’s wheels are gripping the road surface every 16 milliseconds and delivers seamless transition between front-wheel drive and AWD performance to provide a more secure footing on the road especially in slippery conditions. Intelligent AWD also is offered for the Kuga; all-new Galaxy, Mondeo and S‑MAX passenger cars; and on the Transit commercial vehicle.
The all-new Ford Focus RS introduces Ford Performance AWD with Dynamic Torque Vectoring to deliver a new level of handling capability and driver enjoyment
The Ford Ranger pickup offers driver-selectable 4WD featuring a two-speed transfer box, and enables drivers to switch between rear-wheel drive and 4WD high-range using a knob on the centre console at speeds of up to 75mph.