Just as it’s introducing a new Sport Utility model in the Russian production line-up, Ford is counting on such vehicles to revive sales in Russia after a contraction in demand for sedans propelled a delivery drop, according to the head of the U.S. carmaker’s European operations.
The US automaker, which makes the Focus compact and mid-sized Mondeo at a plant in Russia’s Leningrad region, posted a 19% plunge in nine-month sales in the country, more than double the 7% industry wide drop in the period, according to Association of European Businesses figures.
The company’s local joint venture with OAO Sollers outlined plans yesterday to build the EcoSport SUV and Edge crossover next year.
“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 late yesterday. “The segment which is growing in Russia is sport-utility vehicles. It’s fashionable to have SUVs.”
The partnership between Ford and Sollers took over the U.S. company’s car plant in Vsevolozsk and builds models including the Explorer SUV and Kuga crossover in Elabuga in the Russian republic of Tatarstan. The Edge will be produced at another plant in Naberezhnye Chelny, also in Tatarstan, the companies said yesterday.
With the addition of the EcoSport and the Edge, an offroader between the full-size Explorer and more compact Kuga, “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 will probably amount to about 2.8 million vehicles this year, versus projections exceeding 3 million units at the beginning of the year, Odell said, declining to specify forecasts for Ford.
SUVs are winning buyers as snowy Russian weather and road conditions make the models’ higher clearance useful, Odell said. The vehicles’ seats are also higher than those for standard cars, making them more attractive to drivers, he said.
) - Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 - filed under Ford
. Image credit: .
Discuss: Ford wants its SUVs to boost ailing Russian demand