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Ford acts on rise of budget MPVs

Date: 20 November 2013   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Ford's introduction of the Tourneo Connect passenger vehicle coincides with a predicted Europe-wide rise in the popularity of budget people carriers - established by the likes of the Citroen Berlingo Multispace - that put practicality and function over form and driving experience.

"Tourneo customers are happy for the car to look how it is - a durable workhorse," said Ford UK marketing director Anthony Ireson.

"The French are the people who opened up this segment and understood it first, but we are very definitely coming in to take it over."

Although Ford is predicting the five-seat Tourneo Connect will dominate sales, a positive reaction from the business market to the seven-seat Grand version could see it improve on the predicted 14% share of sales.

Motability and conversions will also be important to the model that's 400mm longer than the regular vehicle.

"Most people buy these things for utility, practicality and space. Their driving experience is not about going round corners quickly or having as car-like an experience as possible," Ford's LCV product manager Mark Easton told BusinessCar.

"People looking for a Max-type vehicle [Ford's B-max, C-max or S-max models] probably wouldn't buy a Tourneo; it's too much of a box."

The future of the smaller Tourneo Courier is less clear, with Ford as-yet undecided on whether to take the baby people carrier into the UK, with the price gap and discounts available on some larger models rendering it a potentially difficult sell, while there are also concerns about the breadth of product range in terms of dealers being able to display models and stock demonstrators.

"There's no point having a range of vehicles you can't show people," said Easton.