Connect pioneers Ford's launch plans for Mondeo
01 July 2013
Ford is testing a new approach to launching models into the market, with the new Connect small van pioneering the plans.
Ford's new fleet boss Phil Hollins told BusinessCar that the company is looking to have the first 1000 units sold before the vehicle is even in the country, rather than them being specced by the company and handed out to the dealers to sell.
"We've identified big customers and want to sell the first 1000 units before the vehicle goes on sale," said Hollins.
"We'll have the prices out in late June with the residual values; the RV setters have already seen and driven the vehicle."
That happened in April at Ford's Dunton development centre in Essex, where much of the Connect's engineering has taken place.
Hollins continued: "Versus a traditional launch, we're two or three months ahead of when that information would normally be available, and you need that data to talk to any serious fleet customer."
Production starts in September, with first units registered and on the road in early November.
Hollins admitted that the Connect's global product development hub being within miles of the company's UK headquarters was useful, but doesn't see it as a stumbling block to repeating the process in the future if vehicles are instead being developed further afield.
"We've established a process and we're doing that, so there's no reason why we can't replicate it with Germany or America," he declared.
"The only time I'll know it has worked is at the end of the year if we've got vehicles with customers' names against them rather than in stock, but six months out, I'm confident."
Hollins confirmed that Ford will "refine and replicate" the process for its next two crucial fleet products: the new Transit coming in early 2014, which has been partially developed at Dunton, and the new Mondeo, currently set to appear at the end of next year.
The Mondeo, revealed as the American Fusion model in January 2012, has been delayed for Europe due to Ford's decision to close its Genk plant in Belgium and move production to its Spanish facility in Valencia.
"I'm confident we can do it with the Mondeo, and I think that's as a consequence of the delay," claimed Hollins. "There's a lot we could probably get now, but we can't build the car.
We would have been ready to go earlier but can't because of the change of plant, and there's not much more development going in now."