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Ford: Upper medium sector still has key role

Date: 13 January 2014   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Ford emphasises that D-segment cars such as the Mondeo are "miles ahead" of rivals

Ford has rebuffed claims that the ailing upper medium segment has had its day, and described large family hatchbacks and saloons as 'a measure' of a manufacturer's range.

Sales of cars in the upper medium or D-segment, which includes the Mondeo, have been declining in recent years as lower medium and crossover models have eaten into their market share.

Ford's UK marketing director Anthony Ireson said: "The D-segment is still an important one. It's shrinking but it's still bigger than a lot of other segments. We do know customers use the ability to build a high-quality large car as a bit of a measure of brand quality in total, so it's currently still important to be in that segment."

The next-generation Mondeo is due in late 2014 and faces stiff competition from its chief rival the Vauxhall Insignia, which recently became the cleanest model in the segment and the first to crack the 100g/km barrier at 98g/km. Ireson would not be drawn on the forthcoming Mondeo's emissions, but said it would be "competitive". He added that the hybrid version would follow "within a couple of months".

Ford has previously expressed displeasure at its long-term residual values, but Ireson said they had improved of late and the Mondeo was "miles ahead" of direct rivals.

"As soon as you bully someone to put the wrong number down you're in trouble. If you look at the last year, the forecast for Mondeo values have been climbing and we're either at or above the VW products now. The C-max is above the Touran, the Mondeo is above the Passat. In the last year we've either closed the gap or extended the lead.

"Really, RVs are how you behave and how you fare in the market. [The] Mondeo, particularly in the last year, has regained a lot of the gap, and versus the direct GM product we're miles ahead and even ahead for some products from VW - that's Cap Monitor figures."

He said the improvement was down to a reduction in short-cycle business, and claimed rivals had increased the amount of cars sold into such channels: "We have cut back on short-cycle business all over the place. A few years ago we were up at about 80,000 and now we're down at about 40,000. Our mix of business is going more long cycle and resale and proper fleet.

"If you look at this year, I think every VW brand has increased its short-cycle sales, so as we pull out they go in."