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Ford boss trumpets Blue Oval growth

All smiles now: Ford Motor Company president and CEO Alan Mulally talks up the future of Ford at the Amsterdam event.

Rebuilt Ford steps out in Europe with arsenal of new models for the world

7 Sep 2012

FORD has gone from surviving to growing, said the architect of the American giant’s survival strategy, president and CEO Alan Mulally, when unveiling a raft of new vehicles and model updates in Europe last night.

The former Boeing executive said Ford had accelerated the development of new products and technologies “that people truly want and value”.

“Today, we have transitioned from surviving to growing,” he said. “We are serving our customers with what many experts agree is the finest line-up of cars, utilities and trucks in the world.”

While rival General Motors’ European operations are still mired in red ink, Ford is pressing ahead with an accelerated roll out of its One Ford global models in Europe, while keeping one eye on the economic situation there.

A new Mondeo, facelifted Fiesta, new Transit commercial vehicles range and even a new global Mustang muscle car were on the agenda at a presentation by Ford top brass – dubbed Go Further – to 2500 Ford faithful and journalists in Amsterdam.

“We believe Europe presents a great opportunity to serve our customers and grow our business profitably,” he said.

 center imageFrom top: 2013 Ford Mondeo and Ford Fiesta hatch.

“This means increasing the number of vehicles based on our global platforms. Today, 43 per cent of our European line-up comprises global vehicles.

“This will increase to 71 per cent within five years. That means that by 2017 our European showrooms will feature 15 truly global vehicles.” The European model roll-out will also have a major impact on Ford Australia, where the Mondeo, Fiesta and Transit new-generation models – and most likely the Mustang too – are all on the local launch list over the next year or two.

Mr Mulally, who took over the helm of Ford in 2006, just before the global financial crisis, said Ford had now achieved 12 straight quarters of strong profitability.

He attributed the success to the One Ford policy, which dictated that all Ford models be built on a family of global platforms for greater efficiency.

“We moved decisively to develop a full family of vehicles – small, medium and large - cars, utilities, trucks and commercial vehicles,” he said.

“We committed ourselves to being leaders in quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and of course the very best value.

“We worked to aggressively restructure our business in North America to match production to the current demand.

“Most importantly, we decided to accelerate the development of new products and technologies that people truly want and value and leverage our global scale.”

Ford of Europe chairman and CEO Stephen Odell said Ford was planning to aggressively expand its European presence, despite the current economic downturn.

“Think about it… when you include Russia and other fast-growing markets, the total European vehicle market is expected to increase by 20 per cent over the next five years,” he said.

“That will represent about one of every four vehicles sold around the world. That’s why, as some may back off, Ford is increasing its investment in new products and technologies for Europe.

“Our aim is to be a leading player in all major segments.”

Apart from new models, Ford is rolling out a new dealership program in Europe, with more than 20 new pilot dealerships already in place across the continent.

However, Ford Australia told GoAuto that the new “Ford Consumer Experience Movement” retail system was not planned for Australia “at this stage”.

Mr Odell said that while the internet was a vital sales and marketing tool in modern car retailing, “the visit to the dealership is still critical because it provides the physical experience that convinces the customer they’ve made the right choice”.

“I see our new Ford dealership as the opportunity to move from transaction based negotiations to customer-focused encounters.

“To achieve that, we will need the commitment of everyone throughout every dealership to long-term culture change.”

The Ford Consumer Experience Movement started in the US as a collaborative program developed jointly by Ford and a panel of dealers.

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