DEARBORN, Mich. – Ford is leading a major global shift to fuel-efficient and functional utility vehicles, growing its sales in the last five years faster than any other Ford vehicle segment and faster than the industry average.
“This was a major bet we made with the One Ford plan, and it is paying off,” said Jim Farley, executive vice president, global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln. “Utilities are helping us grow our share in the North American market – particularly in the traditionally difficult coastal markets – and they’re driving our expansion in developing markets, where utility growth is exploding.”
The One Ford plan has delivered a global family of utilities, including EcoSport, Escape/Kuga, Edge and Explorer, which will fuel the company’s growth during the next few years.
In the United States, Ford is the best-selling utility brand. Nowhere is the U.S. impact more evident than in California, where Explorer retail sales are up 43 per cent and Escape retail sales are up 51 per cent through April of this year. A Ford analysis of Polk retail registrations indicates the company’s two newest utilities have helped to increase its share by 6 percentage points in California – the biggest retail sales growth since 2006 of any non-premium brand in the critical state.
The trend is even more promising globally, where industry sales are expected to surge during the next five years, according to data from IHS Automotive. With the recent global launches of EcoSport, Escape/Kuga, Edge and Explorer, Ford is expected to see sales of its utility vehicles grow in every market around the world.
Small utilities to lead globally
Data provided by IHS Automotive indicate global utility vehicle sales grew 35 per cent between 2005 and 2012. The segment now accounts for more than 13 million sales annually – 18 percent of the global automotive market.
Small utilities are leading the growth, with sales up 154 per cent in that period.
In 2012, small utilities accounted for just more than 7 million vehicles, approximately 9 per cent of total global vehicle sales. The subcompact EcoSport and the larger compact Escape – or Kuga in markets outside North America – represent Ford’s small utility vehicle offerings.
Further utility vehicle growth is expected in the coming years, driven mainly by the small utility segment, which is the fastest-growing segment and is projected to increase by 51 per cent.
Ford small utility sales are projected to outpace the overall industry, according to IHS Automotive. The increase will be driven largely by introduction of EcoSport into key markets, including India, China and Europe, and the launch of Kuga in the fast-growing China market.