Ford relies on the Russian government’s aid and the increasing supplies of SUVs in the region to increase demand in one of the automaker’s most underperforming markets.
Ted Cannis, CEO of Ford Sollers units, said that the automaker will add to the local production the Kuga (Escape) SUV and the EcoSport, besides the Explorer which started production in Russia in April. All these models are expected to boost sales during the second half of the year. From January to May, Ford’s sales in Russia dropped 18%, compared with the 4.5% industry drop.
“The government may take some actions to improve industry sales, and with our own actions of broadening the SUV portfolio and more availability of commercial vehicles, I would expect a significant improvement in the second-half performance,” Cannis said by telephone.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally plans to focus more on Russia, a market expected to soon surpass Germany and become Europe’s no.1 auto market. Analysts predict that new vehicle sales in Russia will be somewhere between 2.8 million units and 3.1 million units this year. The US automaker is also overhauling its model lineup in Europe, planning to add the Mondeo mid-size in 2014.