Ford said it expects a product surge and dealership overhauls to continue its momentum in the European market in 2015, where the automaker grew its market share last year.
The automaker also confirmed it will introduce the all-new seven-passenger Ford Galaxy vehicle in Europe in mid-2015, building on an increase in interest in SUVs in that market. The new Ford Edge, built in Oakville, Ontario, will start making versions for Europe by the end of the year. The other crossovers include the Kuga (known as Escape here) and the smaller EcoSport.
The utility vehicles join a slate of new models that include the new S-MAX, C-MAX, Grand C-Max, Focus ST (which will add a diesel for the first time) and the Mustang.
The company’s sales in Europe rose 7 percent to 1.16 million vehicles last year, outpacing the industry by about two percentage points and leading to a market-share increase from 7.8 percent to 8 percent.
“We’re obviously expecting to continue our positive momentum,” said Peter Fleet, vice president of sales for Ford of Europe, in a conference call with reporters. “It really will be one of the biggest years for new product launches that Ford has experienced in Europe.”
Strong growth in the SUV market is fueling growth, he said. But there’s also a “huge amount of interest” in the Mustang, which is going global for the first time, and the Fiesta, which is targeting a third consecutive year as the best-selling small car in Europe.
Ford is also introducing Vignale versions of vehicles, including the Mondeo. Vignale is an upscale line Ford has added for Europe, where the automaker does not sell the Lincoln luxury brand. Dealers who sell the brand need a “Vignale lounge” to cater to those customers.
Ford is upgrading its dealerships across the board. About 200 stores will sport a new look this year, growing to 500.
Meanwhile, the precipitous drop in global oil prices is putting downward pressure on gasoline prices, which Fleet said was a positive sign.
“That’s a good thing,” he said. “We continue to promote the fuel economy of our vehicles.”