Dubai: A settled line-up of sedans and a robust 55 per cent volume growth in the UAE combined to push Ford Motor Co (FMC) past the 75,000-unit in the region last year. In Saudi Arabia, the carmaker’s biggest regional market, volumes were flat following the late-2011 decision to phase out the Crown Victoria, historically a big seller in the kingdom as well as in Kuwait.
Apart from the UAE, “We have seen significant sales gains in Oman, Bahrain and Qatar, and in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait if we remove Crown Victoria from the equation, growth was between 30-40 per cent,” said Larry Prein, regional managing director.
“Ford now has the strongest line-up ever in the region and it means diversification of sales across wider segments whereas earlier it used to be driven by SUVs and the large sedans.”
A strategy is also cooking for the prestige label Lincoln. Globally, FMC has made it clear it wants to wants to get more out of the marque and the upshot should be visible in the months ahead.
Regionally, would this mean a separate management to handle the Lincoln drive? “We believe it will fall within the Ford Middle East office; but the global strategy is still under development” Prein added. “With Lincoln right now it’s not so much about volumes as about the products and customer experience. In 2013-15 we will be launching four new Lincoln models with the first — the MKZ — due late in the first quarter.”
On whether it was time to consider standalone Lincoln showrooms in the region, the official said: “It’s a time to look at everything but as I said the Lincoln strategy is being drawn up now.”
To help build up the 2012 regional total, fleet sales offered a growth story. “We think we can grow both retail and fleet sales successfully,” Prein said. “I think every year is crucial to meeting your ultimate goals and I don’t necessarily see this year or the next being more vital.”
Meanwhile, new facilities will be added to the regional network, “with Saudi Arabia probably having the most”. On the upcoming Ford models, “We have just launched the new Escape and getting the first few Focus STs, which have basically sold out,” Prein said. “The EcoSport comes later this year.”