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Ford to release 20 new models by 2020

Show pony: Every new or updated Ford model set to release in 2015 were in attendance at the event, including the highly anticipated Mustang.

Blue Oval reveals big company, retail plans including 20 new hi-tech models by 2020

9 Dec 2014

FORD has announced its intention to release 20 new-generation or refreshed models in Australia by the end of the decade as the company tries to arrest a long-term sales decline and shore up its future as a full-line importer once local manufacturing ceases in 2016.

Central to the comprehensive strategy, which was detailed at a ‘2014 Go Further’ event in Melbourne this week, is winning over and keeping more customers in the fold with a complete dealership and servicing overhaul, using methods poached from outside the car industry.

There was also a showcase of new convenience and safety technologies due within the next two years and designed to be more accessible to more Australian consumers.

Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano said the company’s actions would help give the Blue Oval brand a “distinct competitive advantage” in an increasingly fierce marketplace, however he would not be drawn into revealing sales aspirations as a result of the changes.

“What we’re doing is bringing out all the great products and great technologies, ensuring we have the right consumer experience there, and ideally they’ll bring the customers in – but ultimately the consumers will have to decide,” he said.

“What we want to do is put our best foot forward … it is a journey, we knew it was going to be a journey, and these are the first steps along that journey.”

The future product and revitalised dealer experience cannot come soon enough, with Ford suffering a 10-year market share decline, from 14.2 per cent in 2004 to nearly half that this year to the end of November. In 1996 it commanded more than 20 per cent of the market.

Every 2015 debutante was displayed at this week’s event, including the long-awaited new-generation Mondeo mid-sizer due in February, the facelifted Focus small car due mid-year and the Australian-engineered Everest SUV set down to arrive in the third quarter.

The heavily anticipated Mustang was also displayed ahead of its sales release later next year, while the revised Ranger utility, launch timing for which is still to be finalised, was shown in a brief video.

Mr Graziano also promised to reveal information about more upcoming models within the next 12 months, which is likely to include the future of the Fiesta light car, an extended commercial vehicle range and an all-new Territory SUV replacement.

He added that today’s entire line-up will be completely overhauled by the beginning of 2017.

Ford also used the event to confirm an Australian-bound hybrid, bringing the brand into the electrification age for the first time.

While Mr Graziano declined to reveal further details, it is believed that a variation of the Mondeo-based Fusion Hybrid sold in North America will step in to take on the established Toyota Camry Hybrid, though not at the new Mondeo’s launch early next year.

Furthermore, every new Ford from now on will be underpinned by what is referred to as the “democratisation” of advanced safety, security and convenience technologies, which have been the provenance of more expensive marques in the past.

These include a world-first rear inflatable seatbelt system, blind-spot warning, cross traffic alert, active city stop and an enhanced active park assist system with hands-free parallel and perpendicular parking capability.

The company also outlined a complete overhaul of its dealership and servicing experience, rolling out a far more modern and user-friendlier model that encourages repeat custom.

Based on a successful US implementation strategy that has seen a five-fold sales increase and seven-fold jump in customer satisfaction rates, the model is already underway in a number of ‘pilot’ dealerships here, before being adopted Australia-wide by the beginning of 2016.

“We’ve benchmarked many great companies like Starbucks and Apple to learn how they create great consumer experiences,” said Ford Australia marketing, sales and service vice-president Graeme Whickman.

“Their primary model is on their people and that’s a model we are working towards, because a great employee experience will lead to a great customer experience.”

According to Mr Graziano, the goal of the 2014 Go Further event is to show consumers that Ford is already working extremely hard to be a leader in the future.

“By 2020, we are determined to be the most respected automotive brand in Australia, by earning the respect and loyalty of our customers,” he said.

“Our product is a critical part of our Australia transformation plan. The Ford Motor Company has already invested billions in the design and development of world-class vehicles and technologies“Right now it’s time to focus on our delivery of a transformational retail and ownership experience that stands apart in our industry. This is vital in our One Ford vision and represents the next frontier for our brand globally.

“The 2014 Go Further event is another proof point in our transformation and a clear indication of the speed and breadth of the change happening at Ford, from the customer experience, right through to our sales and service.

“2015 also marks an acceleration of new model introductions that will continue through the balance of the decade.”

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