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No rental for Vignale, says Ford

Date: 24 March 2015   |   Author:

Ford's Vignale premium sub-brand will not be sold into short-cycle channels, according to UK managing director and chairman Mark Ovenden.

Ovenden told BusinessCar there would be "no rental volume" with Vignale in order to maintain high residual values.

The new Mondeo will receive the Vignale premium makeover treatment in time for the September-plate change and the S-max will follow early next year. Ovenden said more models could follow.

Vignale won't have a dedicated fleet sales team, and the merits of the new models will be sold by the same field sales team as the rest of the Ford range.

The intention is for Ford to convert existing customers from their Titanium X models into Vignale, rather than looking to muscle in on Audi, BMW and Mercedes' territory, although there could be some conquest opportunities.

Ovenden said: "The best source of sales are your existing customers. We've got a very good mix of customers taking high-spec Titanium and Titanium X models and we needed somewhere for our customers to go that wanted something more."

Ford is adding Vignale "lounges" to its dealer network, which will offer dedicated "relationship managers" for customers that have bought in to the premium experience. Dealerships will offer a concierge-style service with a free telephone number customers can ring to arrange servicing.

Vignale dealers will provide free collection and delivery for servicing from a home or office address, along with servicing scheduled to suit the driver.

Ovenden said the details were still being worked out on how the Vignale service will differ on the aftersales side for fleet customers.

He also said it was too early to say how much of the sales mix on Mondeo and S-max Vignale would take.

Ovenden said: "It's not worth doing this for a pittance. It has to be worthwhile for us from a profitability standpoint to even do this, but it's too early to say."

Ford led the fleet market last year with 164,901 units sold to businesses. Ovenden said 2014 saw the brand rebalance its business on fleet with 20% going to rental business.

The Focus was the most popular fleet model last year overall with 53,825 units sold. Focus volumes did reduce by 2.2% last year, but this is expected to be offset with a full year of sales for the facelifted model that launched in January.