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Ford frustrated as rivals escape RV 'punishment'

Date: 16 April 2013   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Ford's UK boss has called on RV?specialists to be less conservative with their predictions for his brand and to adopt a more realistic approach across the market. Speaking to BusinessCar, Ford of Britain MD Mark Ovenden hit out at rival manufacturers for pursuing daily rental and similar short-cycle business and claimed that they had not been punished enough.

"While I don't think we're getting enough credit for what we've been doing on managing our channel mix. It wouldn't be fair to say who, but I don't think some manufacturers are getting enough punishment for doing a lot more short-cycle business than you would expect certain brands to be doing - and yet somehow their RVs seem to hold up through it."

Commenting on Ford's own RVs,  he said: "Our RVs are okay. You would always want them to be better; they can always be better.

"It's always a challenge because the ratings agencies are never going to be criticised if they under-call an RV.

"From their customers' point of view - the contract hire companies, the fleets - under-calling an RV is not a problem, so we think they tend to err on the side of caution."

Former fleet boss Kevin Griffin echoed Ovenden's sentiments on RVs before his departure to head up the company's European LCV operations in late 2012. Speaking to BusinessCar in August, he said: "The Focus in the near term is where it should be. What's frustrating is the two- to three-year value - it should be higher."

Ovenden stressed that Ford had gone to great lengths to foster its RVs: "A good example of what we did was to significantly reduce the amount of Fiestas we do on the Channel Islands, which was short-cycle business. We did that and the RV went up.

"I think with the Focus we just need to keep working on it and if we do the right things, almost as an act of faith, the RVs will improve."

He continued: "There's some frustration in that I don't think we get enough credit for the actions we've taken to reduce rental, in terms of our RVs."

Ovenden said the rental volume Ford does now has halved against 2006. 

"I think in round numbers on passenger cars we'll do 40,000-41,000 rental this year... in 2006, off the top of my head, it would be about 80,000.

"So an appeal would be for a little bit more consistency from the ratings agencies to recognise the steps that Ford is taking to reduce our short-cycle business, and to level up the playing field a little bit more to recognise the amount of short-cycle business that certain other brandsare doing."