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New 2WD Kuga signals Ford backtrack

Date: 31 October 2008   |   Author: Rupert Saunders

Ford is to backtrack on its initial marketing stance for the Kuga and will launch a two-wheel drive version, designed to attract company user-choosers and fleets.

The move has been prompted by slumping 4x4 sales and forthcoming changes to capital allowances.

The new model, based on the current 2.0 TDCi diesel engine, will have a CO2 rating of less than 160g/km, thus enabling companies to claim 20% write-down allowance when the tax changes are introduced next April. The four-wheel drive's extra weight means it emits 169g/km of CO2.

When the Kuga was launched, Ford chairman Roelant de Waard said: "There is no diluting, bottom-end loss leader so we don't plan a two-wheel drive variant." However, this week he admitted the changing economic picture had forced the car company to change its mind.

"The situation has changed. If you had asked me at launch I would have said we would not sold enough (two-wheel drive) to make it viable," he said. "But I have been surprised by the support for the idea."

However, de Waard said the new Kuga would maintain its premium equipment levels and be priced at £18,995, rather than compete head-on with the market-leading Nissan Qashqai, which is priced around £17,000.

Year-to-date, Ford has sold around 2300 Kugas, of which 300 have gone to fleet.

The new model is expected to become available in December.