Ford reveals survival plan

SUVs, hybrids and horsepower are key to the Blue Oval’s post-Falcon future. Wheels delves into the detail power alcon etail

Ford no longer wants to be the Falcon car company n

14 models in next two years

FORD’S transformation from car-maker to full-line importer in Oz is about to hit full stride.

A 14-car model blitz in the next two years will increase Ford’s range by 30 percent. Headlines include the Aussie-engineered Everest SUV and smaller Edge SUV, new Fiesta and Mondeo, and Mustang. A facelifted Focus is also on the cards, and rumours persist of the Taurus replacing Falcon in the largecar segment from 2017. Ford Oz says 2015 will be the busiest year in its 90-year history.

Customer experience

FORD is spending up big to give customers the best buying and ownership experience. It acknowledges one ingredient for success is repeat business. The decision to quit V8 Supercars was all about increasing its war chest.

By the end of 2015, one-third of its dealer network will be refurbished for the new quality experience: friendlier and filled with iPad-toting salespeople. Customer new-car collections will become ‘occasions’.

Capped-price servicing

SERVICING will be a priority, with a program embracing the owner like never before, starting with an online booking procedure that allows the customer to choose a particular service technician at their preferred dealership.

Owners will be kept informed of their vehicle’s servicing progress via text and email.

This transparency of process and capped pricing – even on brakes – is, Ford believes, key to building trust and a lasting relationship with owners.

Forget Falcon, we are Ford

FORD no longer wants to be the Falcon car company, or the Focus flogger. It’s new strategy is modeled on brands such as Starbucks and Apple, which is not the iPod or iPhone company, but revered for its culture and mentality. “You’ve seen some of that recently with the ‘Guess Who’ campaign where we’re just approaching it a little differently,” says Ford CEO Bob Graziano (far left). “Consumers can engage with the brand and not be as targeted on individual vehicle lines.” ot no

More hybrids

GRAZIANO points out that Ford globally is the second-largest seller of hybrid vehicles.

“We’ve got an electrification strategy globally that we can tap into.” He won’t say which cars will be sold Down Under.

Ford sells an electric Focus in North America, plus a hybrid C-Max MPV and a hybrid Fusion. “What we do is monitor ... when we think the market will be ready for us to have products here, and that’s what we’re timing ourselves for.”

When exactly? “Within the next few years…“ hen

Mustang sallies

FINALLY! The decision in 2013 to green-light the large-scale importation of the iconic rear-wheel-drive, V8-powered Mustang will give Ford Oz a new poster child after the XR8 disappears. Expect coupe and convertible variants of the pony car, powered by a 306kW V8.

Enviro-hoons can opt for the 233kW turbocharged fourcylinder version that proves the Mustang is as modern and up-to-date as the rest of Ford’s fleet, even after five decades of heritage and glory. A hybrid, though, is unlikely.

More technology

FORMER Ford global boss Alan Mulally, now on Google’s board of directors, proclaimed Ford as a ‘technology company’, not just a car maker. Tech such as text-message reading, useable voice commands and the ability to say ‘I’m hungry’ and have the latest SYNC2 system know that you’re looking for a nearby restaurant are key, says Ford Australia. Then there’s safety tech including inflatable rear seatbelts in the new Mondeo, and the SYNC2’s ability to automatically call 000 in the event of a major collision. atically automa