Just weeks before the Paris Motor Show, Ford Motor Co. has taken the wraps off of much of its new lineup for Europe in an effort to shore up its efforts for European dealers. The webcast press conference from Amsterdam ended with the official announcement that the Dearborn, Michigan-based car maker will officially make the Mustang available for Autobahn runs and cobble stone street drifting.
"We'll have more details on the Mustang coming to Europe later this year," CEO Alan Mulally said, as he stood before a crowd of more than 2,500 dealers, enthusiasts and reporters. Thousands more watched him and other key Ford executives tout the company's accelerated plans to introduce more global vehicles to Europe.
The Old Country has been problematic in recent years as its stagnant economy has cost automakers billions. Ford lost $404 million in Europe in the second quarter of 2012 and expects Europe to continue to drag down the company's global profitability in the near future. But instead of going on the defensive, Ford has launched its own path to prosperity, Mulally said. The company can't afford to try the same old formulas.
"Six years ago, we developed our One Ford plan," Mulally said, "Now, we're bringing that plan to Europe."
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The original One Ford plan included a product blitzkrieg in America based on many European designed vehicles such as the Ford Fiesta, Focus and Transit Connect. Now, to capitalize on many successful American products, it appears those are destined to Europe, this time as the Ford Kuga, Edge and Mondeo (built off of the Escape, Edge and Fusion platforms).
According to Ford's top European executive Stephen Odell, 41 percent of Europe's vehicles are currently built on global platforms. By 2016, 71 percent of Europe's vehicles will be globally built vehicles.
The plan makes sense and could help the Blue Oval take advantage of economies of scale to lower the overall cost of many vehicles. And as long as the market embraces the vehicles, Ford should be able to begin to show profits in Europe.
Ford is certainly placing some big bets on its crossovers and sport utilities, which Odell says sales are expected to grow in Europe.
The small EcoSport (above), first launched in South America, will now go to Europe as a second generation CUV. Later this year, Ford will introduce the midsize Ford Kuga, which is built on the new Escape platform. Ford also will bring the Edge to Europe, where this bigger midsize crossover may have a tougher time handling narrow European streets and much tighter parking spaces.
While less exciting, Ford showed off three versions of the new Transit work van (above), a version of which will be coming to America eventually, with gas and diesel variants, to replace the aging Econoline. The smaller Transit Connect is also overhauled.
Ford also debuted a redesigned Mondeo, which shares its looks and platform with the 2013 Ford Fusion. However, the Mondeo will include Ford's three-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine and offer a wagon variant.
"This is as true of engines as it is of computers and smart phones," said Barb Samardzich, vice president of product development for Ford Europe, "and by equipping the all-new Mondeo in Europe with our acclaimed 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine we are delivering cutting-edge technology that delivers a very real and tangible customer benefit."
The extreme product makeover could help bolster sales for Ford in Europe, but more importantly, the commonality of vehicles across the globe could make the car maker more profitable. Great cars are good to have as long as the accountants use black pens instead of red ones.