Just as it’s introducing a new Sport Utility model in the Russian production line-up, Ford wants the models to spur a sales revival in Russia after dwindling sedan demand triggered a delivery slump, according to the head of the US carmaker’s European operations.
Ford, which builds the Focus compact and mid-sized Mondeo at a facility in Russia’s Leningrad region, posted a 19% drop in nine-month figures, more than double the 7% industry wide slump in the period, according to Association of European Businesses figures.
“It’s been a very quick shift from the vehicles which were successful historically,” such as the Focus, Stephen Odell, president of Ford’s European, Middle Eastern and African business, said in an interview in Moscow. “The segment which is growing in Russia is sport-utility vehicles. It’s fashionable to have SUVs.”
The partnership between Ford and Sollers has a plant in Vsevolozsk and builds models like the Explorer SUV and Kuga crossover in Elabuga, Tatarstan. The Edge will be produced at another manufacturing facility in Naberezhnye Chelny, also in Tatarstan, the companies announced recently.
With the production of the EcoSport and the Edge, “we’ll have a complete portfolio of products in the growing SUV segment, actually way faster than you would’ve thought we’d be able to respond,” Odell said.
Russia’s car market could reach just 2.8 million vehicles this year, versus earlier forecasts that saw it exceeding 3 million units at the beginning of the year, Odell added, declining to provide detailed predictions for Ford.