Super Segment boosts attractiveness of Ford to import-minded buyers

Article by Anita Panait, on March 29, 2013

Ford Motor Co.'s Super Segment has been one of the main reasons why the carmaker’s dealers have been posting increases in their monthly new vehicle sales. Super Segment? The term refers to the five Ford brand vehicles -- the Fiesta subcompact, Focus compact, Escape compact crossover, C-Max Hybrid crossover and Fusion mid-sized sedan – that allows the carmaker to attract buyers who seemed to be more interested in acquiring imported vehicles.

The Super Segment is Ford’s first line of offense to entice customers who see Ford mainly as a pickup and SUV brand. All of the members of the Super Segment have Ford’s kinetic design and best fuel economy. All except the C-Max Hybrid are available with Ford's EcoBoost engines.

All were initially developed in Europe under the One Ford product plan of Ford chief executive Alan Mulally. But how effective is the Super Segment? Ask Jerry Feldman and Tim Mullahey, owners of Central Ford of Los Angeles, California, where consumers tend to buy Toyota Camry, Corolla or RAV4 or the Honda Accord, Civic or CR-V.

They used to sell only around 10 new vehicles monthly. However, after the introduction of the Super Segment, Feldman Mullahey saw their sales rise to 60 units monthly. "When you talk about Super Segment, what you're really talking about is, Ford is back in the car business," Feldman told Automotive News.

He added that they now have competitive products in segments where they weren’t part of, since product availability was the only thing holding them back. He noted that with the Super Segment, they expect to hike their monthly vehicles sales from 100 to 125 units as the economy improves. Ford expects its capacity limitations on the Fusion to ease this summer, when it will commence building the vehicle at its Flat Rock plant in Michigan, in addition to its Hermosillo site in Mexico.

According to David Mondragon, general marketing manager for Ford and Lincoln, the mid-sized or smaller cars -- or those in the Super Segment -- have "shown explosive growth in the past decade.” They accounted for 60 percent of sales of non-premium vehicles in 2012, from just 30 percent in 2004. Ford expects the Super Segment to account for 70 percent of non-premium sales "by mid-decade.”

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