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Ford puts Focus on segment-leading RVs

Date: 10 February 2011   |   Author:

Focus on the road

Ford is looking to boost the RVs of its new Focus to the level where it out-points VW's Golf, as well as the rest of the lower medium class.

Ford of Britain boss Nigel Sharp thinks the new model can achieve best-in-class residuals, provided the brand sticks to its word and reduces short-cycle business to convince the RV experts to lift their predictions.

"Over time I think we can lead the segment," Sharp told BusinessCar. "If you look at Passat versus Mondeo, there's not a huge gap there, and Kuga is not so far from Tiguan. There is a difference between Polo and Fiesta, but I feel we can match Golf RVs.

"I think it's entirely reasonable. A lot depends on our behaviour - what we do and how we go to market."

He said the change in behaviour is not about just daily rental business, as 25% of the market is eaten up by the likes of rental, bodyshop, courtesy car, driving school, and manufacturer-captive sales.

Sharp said that if Ford forced the market - "those vehicles that change owners within the first year" - it would mean having to lower the prices of those cars to distinguish them from new models. "We need to pull back and err on the side of caution and control distribution," he said.

"We think Golf RVs are achievable. They've been very consistent with how they've marketed - they have very good control of distribution, and have made a merit out of something that's evolutionary not revolutionary," said Sharp. "We don't want to become the Golf, but some of the business principles they operate are very good."

Ford is also looking for best-in-class figures for its next-generation Focus Econetic, due around the end of this year. Details are still scarce, but the new model will beat the previous Econetic's 99g/km CO2 emissions figure. There's also a pure electric Focus scheduled to hit the UK within 18 months.

Sharp admitted the new range of technology available on the latest Focus won't be seen on a significant number of vehicles at this stage. Despite being priced at £750 for a package that includes lane-keep assist and departure warning, driver fatigue detection, low-speed crash avoidance, traffic sign recognition and various other developments, there's little historical evidence of customers being willing to pay for safety systems.

"In the fleet world with duty of care I can see some customers will decide to add the equipment, but it will be a rarity to start with," he said.

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