Ford Focuses On Brand Facelift

By Jack Gee Dismayed by falling sales and dwindling market share, Ford Motor Co. is launching a drive to make the brand more appealing to customers. The emphasis will be on durability, high residual values, and contemporary design, according to Nick Scheele, former Jaguar managing director who has been Ford's European chairman since last year. One casualty will be Ford's blue-oval logo. "It has become too diffused and fuzzy," notes Scheele. The new effort aims to reposition Ford away from its utilitarian roots. As a benchmark Scheele has chosen German rival Volkswagen, which took the quality and branding route earlier. To acquire fresh glamour Ford Europe will increase its launches of new models and variants from three to nine a year. Scheele says Ford had lost 25% of its market share in Europe over the last five years. It has failed to make a significant profit in the region since 1990. Scheele adds: "We also have to get product and costs under control. We have to take a major look at our distribution system." His declared objective: Cut fixed costs by $2 billion over three years and boost its 71% utilization of plant capacity beyond the European industry's 82% average.

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