Ford plans to offer smaller SUVs to more countries

Article by Anita Panait, on May 31, 2013

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.

Ford officially debuted the EcoSport during the 2012 Auto China held in Beijing. With this, Ford hopes the customers in the Chinese market will see that this hopeful sports utility vehicle is in fact a good option to the typical small car. This is a vehicle that is perfect for an urban area, be it for play or for work. The EcoSport offers a high driving position, a confident stance, and strong character.

This is in addition to the maneuverability, agility, and fuel efficiency which come as part of having a compact footprint. Under this latest offering, Ford will be making available a host of powertrain solutions with the aim of setting new standards when it comes to fuel efficiency. One of these is the cutting-edge EcoBoost 1.0-liter engine.

The new EcoSport will be fitted with the Ford SYNC driver connect system that offers voice control. Overall, there are a number of innovative features in the new EcoSport and this is complemented with an interior that is comfortable and offers ample space. The interior also shows craftsmanship at new levels with refinement and quietness clearly outstanding.

President of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa Joe Hinrichs said that the launch of the EcoSport is proof that the company remains committed to giving Chinese customers, and ultimately worldwide customers, trucks, cars, and utilities that they prefer and value. Exceptional quality is present in the EcoSport, in addition to the excellent fuel efficiency offering by the EcoBoost engine. Safety is guaranteed with the smart design that incorporates the SYNC included, he added. Looking at the design, it has become more modern and helps with aerodynamics to improve fuel economy.

The craftsmanship, features, and even smart technologies in the EcoSport are something that many customers would likely not expect to see in a vehicle coming from this class. A production version of the brand’s EcoSport is in the pipeline with Ford saying that it will be building this fuel-efficient and compact urban SUV at a facility in China. This is in addition to other facilities located in South America, Thailand and India.

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Topics: ford, suv

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