GENEVA –is launching a sub-brand of people movers based on its Transit van in Europe that will be completed with a small model to be built in Turkey due first in a passenger version and then as a commercial vehicle.
The Tourneo line will not be sold in North America, but in Europe there will be the 5-seat Tourneo Courier that expands’s peoplemover range into the small-car segment and the 7-seat Grand Tourneo Connect, both of which are premiering at the show along with the 5-seat Tourneo Connect and and Tourneo Custom, which offers 9-seat capability and a choice of two lengths.
“This segment is forecast to grow by 70% in the next four years,” says Barbara Samardzich, director-sales.
Ford of Europe CEO Steve Odell says new vehicles introduced in the past year, such as the Fiesta small car and Kuga (Escape) cross/utility vehicle, made up 40% of the auto maker’s sales in 2012, validating the strategy to continue product investment in spite of a poor market and declining share. Later this year, the Edge CUV and Mustang will be launched.
The new small B-segment EcoSport CUV, introduced a week ago in Barcelona, Spain, goes on sale later in 2013 with a 1.0L engine and voice-activated Ford SYNC system. Odell says the utility/vehicle segments in Europe are expected to grow 30% by 2015.
He also says all the vehicles on the Ford show stand are powered by EcoBoost engines and equipped with SYNC. Only 30% of Ford’s models offered SYNC in 2012 compared with 60% this year.
Ford is the No.2 brand in Europe after, but its sales fell 13.2% last year to a 7.6% market share from 8% on 2011. Odell says this year the brand will aim at matching 2012 or improving on it.
Deliveries tumbled 25% in January, dropping share to 6.9% in the European Union, but he says that was partly because Ford is moving away from the fleet market and toward sales to individuals.
Ford’s share of private buyers in 2012 was smaller than its overall 7.9% share, but “tough times do not mean reducing our commitment to new products,” Odell says. “We are investing now, knowing that things will improve.”
The newest product here, the Tourneo Courier, will not help because it does not go on sale until early 2014. The vehicle will be manufactured in Turkey, as will a Transit commercial-van version.
Passenger versions of commercial vans are popular in Europe, particularly in France, and Samardzich believes the trend will grow rapidly.
The big difference between the Tourneo line and the B-, C- and S-Max peoplemovers, she says, is that the Maxes are family-oriented, while the Tourneos aim for people with a “very active lifestyle,” who need room for bicycles, scuba and mountain-climbing gear or other sporting equipment.
Overall, the van-turned-car segment will grow 25% over the next five years to 100,000 units, Samardzich predicts.