Ford is revelling in a growing share of a booming UK new-car market, particularly in the retail sector, but the Chairman and Managing Director of the company’s British operation, Mark Ovenden, believes things have not peaked yet.
Payment protection insurance (PPI) payouts to thousands of UK families and the low price of cars have both helped to grow the market, Ovenden says, but there is also a growing feeling of confidence throughout the country. ‘We have had five or six years of record low interest rates, so people now have some equity in their houses and have started to bring their mortgages down, which has contributed to the strength of the UK market,’ he says.
‘The product is strong, interest rates are low and there are some attractive PCP deals, so I think there is a bit more upside to come yet. I don’t see the total industry volume going beyond 2.2 or 2.3 million, but I have no reason to think it should go down, either.’
Ford now commands 15.3% of the UK market and 13.6% of the retail sector, despite having to postpone the introduction of the new Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy while it restructures its European operations. It also has only one crossover, the Kuga, to compete in the SUV/crossover sector of the market, one of the major boom areas. That will be addressed early next year when the small, Indian-built EcoSport comes to Europe.
‘Am I frustrated by delays to the introduction of the new Mondeo? That’s not the word I would use. We had to do what we had to do,’ says Ovenden. ‘But would I have liked to have the new Mondeo by now? Of course I would. The EcoSport (above) will sell in a sector that is growing and it’s a sector we are not in. We have only a 5% share of the whole J-sector (SUVs and crossovers). We need the EcoSport.’