NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Ford Need Not Pursue Luxury Market in Europe, Mays Says

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Ford Need Not Pursue Luxury Market in Europe, Mays Says

By Tom Murphy

WardsAuto.com, Mar 4, 2010 10:56 AM

Special Coverage

Geneva

Auto Show

GENEVA – Having sold off its Aston Martin and Jaguar brands – with a deal pending to unload Volvo Car – Ford Motor Co. appears weak in the luxury segment at the auto show here.

Rubbing salt in the wound is General Motors Co., which is relaunching the Cadillac brand in Europe.

One might expect Ford to have big plans to re-enter Europe’s fierce luxury market.

Not so, J Mays, Ford’s group vice president-design and chief creative officer, tells Ward’s on the sidelines at the auto show here.

Mays says Ford is well-positioned with its current European product offerings, and there is no plan to introduce the Lincoln or Mercury brands.

“We actually have slightly more upscale content in the Ford of Europe products than we have in the U.S. now, because we have Mercury and Lincoln in the U.S.,” Mays says.

“Ford products here in Europe can have more expensive interiors, more expensive content in terms of LED or halogen headlamps; those kinds of things,” he says. “They will probably always be a half-step above what we can afford to sell in the U.S., probably because the market demands it more over here.”

Mays sees no need to react to GM’s decision to relaunch Cadillac. “Not our strategy,” he says. “Good luck to them.”

Ford of Europe offers upscale “titanium” versions of a number of vehicles, and Mays says the auto maker is surprised to find the take rate for those products to be higher than anticipated.

“That’s really good news,” he says. “It says people who buy the Ford Blue Oval are prepared to pay a higher dollar than many people would probably imagine.”

link:

http://wardsauto.com/home/ford_pursue_luxury_100304/

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Good, it'd probably just be a big waste of money trying to introduce Lincoln or Mercury to Europe.

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J Mays?

proof positive that Lincoln is going global happy.gif

actually gives me (more) hope for an L-M announcement at NYC!

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They still build Lincoln Mercury in the U.S. ............. hummmmmmm I don't live near the snowbirds so I don't often see that sort of thing.

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They still build Lincoln Mercury in the U.S. ............. hummmmmmm I don't live near the snowbirds so I don't often see that sort of thing.

Are you kidding?

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From what I understand, the Ford brand is perceived differently in Europe than it is here in the U.S. The biggest win for the Ford brand in Europe is that it is valued and accepted in that market (which seems to be a tough market to crack). I think it would be foolish for FoMoCo to waste resources attempting to introduce Mercury or Lincoln in that market (which seems to be loyal to their own "homegrown" brands) when the Ford brand seems to be established, accepted, respected, desired, and capable of covering most of the critical segments in that market. If "Titanium" trims can be used to cover the premium segment without the costs of launching and supporting a separate brand in this market, then I think this is the best and wisest route to go.

I do think Lincoln could be expanded into developing markets where the "American Way Of Life" is desired and revered. For example, I think GM has successfully done this with the Buick brand in China; I think Ford could follow suit with Lincoln in the same manner in China and other developing markets. These markets seem to be more accepting of American luxury brands than the Euro market.

As far as the U.S. market, FoMoCo needs to focus on clearly defining and differentiating the Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln brands. If FoMoCo intends on merging all three brands into a single dealer network configuration, then the brands need to clearly represent their purposes and intentions like never before. I think Ford (mainstream) and Lincoln (premium) both have clearly defined roles, although I think Lincoln needs some further tweaking (the next gen MKZ and MKX both need completely unique exterior designs from their Ford brand platform mates). Mercury is the brand that really needs a complete overhaul. With all three brands presented together under a single dealership format, Mercury's slightly modified U.S. Ford brand clones are going to appear completely redundant and unnecessary. I believe Mercury has the potential to become something unique and relevant (in a niche type role), but FoMoCo needs to recognize, develop, and support that potential. Proper product alignment with Ford of Europe offerings could be used to properly differentiate the Ford and Mercury brands in the U.S. market in the future. Ford would carry products that target the heart of the mainstream market while Mercury would carry products that are more stylized and target specialized niche portions of the market.

For example:

* Subcompact: Ford would carry the sedan and 5-door versions of the Fiesta to cover the mainstream subcompact segment. Mercury would receive a 3-door liftback "coupe" (and possibly an accompanying retractable hardtop roadster) that would be aligned with a resurrected Ford Puma in the Euro market.

* Compact: Ford would carry the sedan and 5-door versions of the new gen Focus to cover the mainstream compact segment. Mercury would receive a 3-door liftback "coupe" (and possibly an accompanying coupe-cabrio) that would be aligned with a resurrected Ford Capri in the Euro market.

* Midsize: The next gen Fusion would be aligned with the next gen Euro market Mondeo sedan. The next gen Milan would be aligned with a 5-door liftback "coupe" version of the next gen Mondeo. The Milan/Mondeo "coupe" would be FoMoCo's entry in the "4-door coupe" segment popularized by the Mercedes CLS and Passat CC, although the Milan/Mondeo Coupe would be the only one in its class with a liftback design.

* Mustang/Cougar: The Mustang would continue as a retro styled 2-door notchback sports coupe and softtop convertible. A new Cougar would share the Mustang's platform, but it would be a modern kinetic inspired design that would come in 3-door liftback coupe and coupe-cabrio configurations. The Cougar would be sold under the Ford brand in the Euro market (possibly under a different model name?; "Cougar" is a little too close in sound to "Kuga").

* Next gen Kuga: The next gen Escape would be aligned with the 5-door version of the next gen Kuga. Mercury would receive the rumored 3-door version of the next gen Kuga as a utility "coupe".

* MPVs: Mercury would receive the new gen regular length C-Max and next gen S-Max as "urban lifestyle vehicles". Ford (mainstream) and Lincoln (premium) would continue with CUVs while Mercury would receive these 2 stylish MPVs as brand "exclusives".

* Fullsize: Unlike Ford and Lincoln, Mercury would stay out of the fullsize vehicle segments.

Basically, Mercury is a niche brand now. I think the lineup that I suggested above would help the brand to become a niche brand with a distinct purpose, especially in a single dealer network configuration. Mercury would specialize in "coupes" (although the term has been stretched and fragmented by quite a few automakers, including BMW, Mercedes, and VW), coupe-cabrios, and MPVs. Aligning Mercury's products with foreign market Ford products would be a cost effective way of giving Mercury some exclusive, brand defining products.

Edited by cire
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Are you kidding?

No I'm sirrus ............................. the question is. Are you kidding?

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