Ford Motor Co. is introducing smaller sports utility vehicles to more markets around the world, hoping that growing demand for such units will continue. According to Erich Merkle, Ford’s sales analyst, Ford’s EcoSport subcompact SUV will be sold in over 60 countries by 2017, from the current 10. The Ford Edge will also be available in 40 countries by 2017, up from just 16 markets in 2012.
He noted that the carmaker has just started selling the Ford Escape, also known as Kuga outside North America, in China this year. Ford chief executive Alan Mulally wants the carmaker to beef up its SUV lineup with smaller models while trimming down production of larger units like Explorer SUV -- to entice consumers who want both cargo space and fuel economy. Smaller SUVs are posting significant growth as consumers in the US look for more compact models while buyers in developing countries like China and India become wealthier.
Ford chief marketing officer Jim Farley remarked that people around the world are “falling in love with this body style” for many reasons, one of which is its image. He noted consumers are becoming attracted to SUV because of their ground height, enough space for both passenger and cargo, and most recently, fuel economy. Deliveries of SUVs around the world have jumped 35 percent since 2005, and are expected to grow faster than industry demand through 2017 according to researcher IHS Automotive.
SUVs are also expected to account to 20 percent of the global vehicle sales by 2017. Tapping on this fast-growth vehicle segment would allow Ford to boost its financial performance outside North America. The carmaker’s North American operations remain the only solid provider of profits, earning $8.34 billion in pretax income in 2012 and $2.44 billion in the first three months of 2013.