Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Ford outpaces Euro industry growth
As Nissan in the UK highlights its sales success in Europe (see below) total sales of Ford vehicles in its 20 traditional European markets totalled 88,700 in January, an increase of 9.8 per cent on the same period last year.
Ford claims its sales outpace the industry growth of 6.5 per cent. Ford’s total vehicle market share rose 0.2 percentage points to 7.7 per cent.
Ford remains the No. 2 total vehicle and passenger car brand in Europe. It claims it was also the No. 2 commercial vehicle brand in January.
Ford commercial vehicle sales rose 33 per cent in January, giving the company a market share of 13.2 per cent, up 2.5 percentage points. It was the highest January commercial vehicle market share for Ford since 1995, underscoring the success of Ford’s completely new and expanded commercial vehicle range in Europe.
“More important than simply increasing our market share is that we have achieved this through improved sales on the higher value retail side of the business,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, marketing, sales and service, Ford of Europe.
“Our investment in new product and technologies is really paying off, and we will see much more to come on this front in what will be one of the busiest years ever for Ford in terms of new vehicle introductions in Europe.”
Ford’s sales in healthier sales channels – including private retail and fleet customers – accounted for 77 per cent of its passenger car sales in January, 7 per cent better than industry average.
Customer demand continued to grow across Ford’s vehicle range. January 2015 saw the best Kuga SUV sales in Europe since the launch of the first-generation Kuga in 2008. Sales of the EcoSport compact SUV were the highest for any month since launch of the model mid-last year.
The Transit family – including Transit, Transit Custom, Transit Connect and Transit Courier – achieved its highest January sales since 2008. Sales of the Ranger pickup also achieved best January sales volumes since the nameplate launched in Europe in 1998.
Sales of the all-new Mondeo were up 29 per cent year-over-year and order take was up 60 per cent as the model is rolling out to Ford dealerships across Europe.
Late last month, the Fiesta was confirmed as Europe’s top-selling small car in 2014, for the third year running.
Interestingly, against these glowing figures there are gloomy spots and nowhere more gloomy than in the UK where Ford has abdicated production of motor vehicles.
Is it a coincidence that Ford’s market share of the 3.5 tonne vehicle market (which includes vans and chassis cabs) with its Transit models fell from 35.1 per cent in 2013 to 27.2 in 2014.
Mercedes-Benz on the other hand saw it share rise from 28.2 in 2013 to 28.6 per cent in 2014. Iveco sales in this sector also fell from 4.9 per cent in 2013 to 3.5 per cent in 2014.
Meanwhile, Ford executives will need to work hard to restore sales of 3.5-tonne Transits in the UK.
Home of Transit
Many people will recall the days when Ford hailed the UK as “the home of Transit”; indeed 2015 marks the 50th year of the Transit.
The Transit van design actually originated in Germany (the Thames van which preceded Transit was built at Ford’s Dagenham plant in Essex where the company also had a foundry) but production of the new Transit van began in 1965 at Ford’s Langley plant (formerly a Briggs Motor Bodies plant from 1949 before it became part of Ford Motor Company) on the outskirts of Slough, Buckinghamshire, UK.
Later, production of Transit van was moved to a new plant in Southampton which was heavily robotised.
Ford executed this move of the Transit because at the same time as launching Transit at Langley, the company also launched the D-Series truck range.
To the surprise of Ford managers, the D-Series did so well that Ford needed all the floor area it could muster at Langley to produce the D-Series. Consequently, Transit was shifted to Southampton.
Years later, Ford later leapt into bed with Fiat to create a new joint company known as Iveco-Ford to make commercial vehicles. This new ‘joint venture’ company took over the Langley plant but the writing was on the wall as Fiat executives expressed their desire to move truck production Brescia where the vehicles (Iveco Eurocargo) are still built to this day – albeit with almost the same cab as the vehicles had in their latter days at Langley.
And so Ford, nudged by Iveco, had to announce on 1 March 1997 that Langley had to close – declining truck production and the value of the factory’s land (owned by Ford) and being close to London’s Heathrow Airport were no doubt factors.
Ford senior managers probably wanted ‘to be shot’ of commercial vehicle production altogether anyhow as the company had already ended production of the Transcontinental (Transconti) in Amsterdam.
Some 14 years later, Ford managers had to announce yet another UK vehicle-making plant closure.
In early 2011, Ford announced it would shutter the Southampton plant and the last Transit rolled out on 26 July 2013 as production was consolidated in Turkey. However, production of various models of Transits already had been under way in Turkey since 2009 at a new Ford Otosan plant in Kocaeli.
And so ended Ford vehicle production in the UK. So, how will Ford now celebrate 50 years of Transit?