Euro-market luxury trim to expand to five models.
Vignale allows Ford to try to compete with Europe’s many luxury models because the Lincoln brand is not offered. The specs of Vignale models are very similar to the features that Ford reserves for Lincoln in North America and China, and Vignale customers are offered the same special treatment from the dealership.
Ford started selling the first Mondeo Vignale last summer and is expected to add the S-Max Vignale this year (the concept is pictured above). Ford has a new Galaxy and C-Max due this year, making them candidates for the upscale Vignale treatment. Ford of Europe CEO Jim Farley said earlier this month that there will be at least five Vignale models by 2017 which should enable Ford to compete with luxury brands.
The Ford stand in Geneva will be dedicated to the extended Vignale lineup March 1, with performance vehicles and the updated Kuga (Escape) added to the display March 2.
Ford started selling the Mustang, which is now a global vehicle, in Europe last summer. Ford’s GT is also a global vehicle. Numbers are going to be very limited — about 250 of the carbon-fiber-bodied cars will be built a year — but when it goes on sale later this year Farley will ensure Europe gets a few. The Ford GT packs a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 mid-engine that will generate at least 600 horsepower.
Geneva would be a perfect place to announce availability and pricing, which is expected to be in the $400,000 USD range, similar to a Lamborghini Aventador.
The automaker has said it will introduce 12 performance vehicles by 2020. So far it has shown the GT, Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R, Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Focus RS and F-150 Raptor pickup. Though hopes of an all-wheel-drive Fiesta RS joining that lineup were recently dashed, it’s been rumored that a more potent, front-drive Fiesta ST Plus could bow in Geneva.
With the Focus RS, Focus ST, Fiesta ST and Mustang, Ford of Europe expects record performance car sales in Europe in 2016 of about 40,000 vehicles.
The updated Kuga feeds into the hot crossover market. Farley said five new SUVs and crossovers will launch over the next three years, starting with the new Edge coming this spring with diesel and right-hand drive. Helped by the popular EcoSport, Ford expects to surpass 200,000 SUV sales in Europe for the first time this year.
Ford will also expand its electric vehicle portfolio beyond the current Focus EV and Mondeo and C-Max hybrids. Plans are to introduce new plug-in hybrid, hybrid-electric and full electric vehicles in Europe by 2020. “The EV is here to stay in Europe,” Farley said. It is key to regulatory compliance and there are cities where the downtown area is only accessible by zero-emission vehicles.
In keeping with its expanding portfolio, Ford has opened more than 100 flagship FordStores in cities across Europe with modern showrooms and an emphasis on customer satisfaction. The goal is 500 showcase dealerships by the end of this year.
Ford is finally profitable again in Europe. To continue to grow profitably, the automaker announced in early February that it will reduce salaried staff, improve productivity and cut unprofitable vehicle lines, without listing which models will go.