Product Drives Ford of Europe Sales Success
Ford Motor Company’s European division, which posted a pretax profit of $455 million last year, is expected to be profitable again in 2007, said Lewis Booth, executive vice president of Ford and head of its European operations during a webcast presentation this week. He also expects the company’s European-based luxury unit, Premier Automotive Group, to be profitable as well.
Ford of Europe has seen continuously improving sales growth over the past few years thanks in part to the rightsizing of manufacturing facilities and the introduction of flexible manufacturing concepts. The key to success in Europe, however, has been the introduction of exciting products such as the new S-Max and Galaxy, Fiesta, Fusion and Transit.
“Our new products are getting a tremendous reception, winning praise and orders,” said Stephen Odell, Ford of Europe vice president for marketing, sales and service. “In addition, latest data shows that our quality level is improving year-over-year, outpacing our own objectives and reaching new highs.”
Ford of Europe right-sized its manufacturing facilities from 11 assembly plants in 2000 to seven for more efficient production capacity, which is operating at close to 100 percent. The business unit also introduced of flexible manufacturing; in fact, three out of our four big assembly plants are 100 percent flexible, which means Ford of Europe is able to launch a new product for a significantly less amount of investment.
Ford of Europe has realized another operating advantage through its strategy to outsource business into supplier parks and joint ventures. For example, Ford of Europe collaborates with automotive conglomerate PSA on diesel engines and with supplier Getrag on manual transmissions. Both partnerships save development time and money.
While operational improvements benefit the bottom line, a stable of well-received vehicles is driving showroom traffic. Two “people movers” -- the new S-Max, winner of the 2007 Car of the Year, and the Galaxy minivan – accounted for 81 percent of the unit sales year-over-year increase in January, outstripping the previous January retail sales of the Galaxy alone by three times.
Ford of Europe’s small cars, Focus, Fiesta and Fusion, as well as its midsize commercial van Transit also have contributed to the brand’s success.
“Upgrading the Fiesta and Fusion in 2005 helped tremendously,” Odell said. “And the Transit has always been an icon in Europe.”
Ford Transit earned the International Van of the Year 2007 title and was the most popular commercial vehicle for the 41st consecutive year in Ford of Europe’s largest market, Britain. The Transit and its Transit Connect stable mate recorded a 3 percent year-over-year sales gain in 2006.
Ford Focus was the best-selling Ford car in Europe last year with year-over-year sales improvement of 3 percent. It also is the best-selling car in the UK, Ireland and the best-selling non-Russian brand in Russia. It also became the best-selling car in Greece during 2006.
In 2006, Ford sales grew in key markets such as Great Britain, where it is the new car market leader for 30 consecutive years, Italy, Benelux (the economic union of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) and Russia.
With a new Mondeo sedan slated for launch later this year, Odell is optimistic about Ford of Europe’s growth potential in 2007.
“We will continue to strengthen our sales and market position in 2007 thanks to our excellent product mix,” Odell said. “We’re meeting our customers’ diverse vehicle needs and exceeding their expectations for quality, safety, design and features.”
Ford of Europe is on a Roll
-2006 was Ford of Europe’s third consecutive year of profit.
-The European Car of the Year 2007, the S-MAX, is attracting new customers to Ford.
-Despite heavy competition in the commercial vehicle sector the Ford Transit earned International Van of the Year 2007.
-The BP Ford world rally team won the World Rally Championship Manufacturers’ Title for Ford in the first season with the 2006 Focus WRC car.
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