Ford bullish on outlook for PH and Asia-Pacific in 2018
Buoyed by their fifth consecutive year of growth in the Philippines in 2017 and their best-ever January performance despite the new excise tax on vehicles, Ford Motor Company gave a bullish outlook not only for the country, but also for the entire Asia-Pacific region this year.
Ford Asia-Pacific president Peter Fleet, Ford Asean president Yukontorn “Vickie” Wisadkosin, and Ford Philippines managing director Bert Lassard shared their optimism with media during a meet-and-greet at Marriott Hotel’s Den last week.
Fleet credited Ford’s significant sales growth in the Asia-Pacific region in 2017 to the strength of its portfolio of vehicles, with the Ranger pickup and Everest midsize SUV as the biggest contributors in the Asean market.
Fleet and Wisadkosin, who was managing director of Ford Thailand before appointed Ford Asean president, said Ford’s exciting range of new products this year will be led by the intro of the Ranger Raptor, scheduled in Bangkok two days later, and which will be displayed at the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) in April.
Wisadkosin said that in the Asean, Thailand leads in Ford sales, followed by the Philippines, and then Vietnam.
She added that Ford in the Asean region is looking to strengthen after-sales service capability and introduce more transparency in response to customer complaints about costs.
By the end of the first quarter of 2018, Lassard chimed in, Ford Philippines will introduce more customer service initiatives and enhancements to further strengthen its overall customer and owner experience.
This would include rationalizing the cost of after-sales service and parts.
Lassard revealed that before the year ends, Ford Philippines will launch not only the Ranger Raptor, but also the all-new aluminum body Expedition, the new Mustang convertible, and the refreshed EcoSport.
Ford is testing the viability of a convertible sports car in the Philippine market with the Mustang topdown. He pointed out that the Ford Mustang is the most affordable sports car in the market compared to competing European and Japanese brands.
The 2019 iterations of Ford’s two other best-sellers, the Ranger and the Everest, will be equipped with a new powertrain, bringing significant differences in power and fuel economy, Lassard added.
Ford Philippine technicians will undergo more extensive training this year due to the arrival of the Raptor, the aluminum Expedition, and the new powertrains.
In 2017, Ford Philippines opened three new dealerships: Roxas City, Dumaguete and Surigao. Four more new dealerships will be operational before 2018 ends: Clark, Manila and two in the southern provinces, bringing the total to 51 nationwide.
Dealer principal Max Borromeo, who runs Ford dealerships in Cebu and Alabang, among others, ranks sixth in Ford’s global dealership network, Lassard said.
Last month, Ford PH sold 2,737 vehicles, an all-time record for January, driven by continued strong demand for the Ranger and Ford’s lineup of SUVs in the country.
The Everest led sales with 984 units, followed by 862 units of the EcoSport, 680 of the Ranger, 114 of the Explorer, and 62 of the Mustang.
Fastest growing market
Asked about the sales performance of Ford passenger cars, Lassard replied that the Focus and Fiesta are “doing okay,” but this year, Ford intends to focus on the fastest growing market: pickups and SUVs.
With a wide range of SUVs—EcoSport, Everest, Explorer, Expedition—plus the Ranger, “we cover the market pretty well,” the Ford Philippines managing director averred.
He admitted that Ford Philippines may eventually phase out sales of passenger cars.
Looking to the future and Ford’s progress in self-driving and connected cars, Fleet posited that the company’s goal is to convert all vehicles to “smart vehicles” in a connecting environment.
“Smart vehicles in a smart world” is Ford’s go-further project, Fleet said.
Fleet also claimed that Ford is leading in developing electric cars. According to wired.com, Ford announced at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month that it will pump $11 billion into the production of electric vehicles in the next five years, with 24 hybrid and 16 fully electric vehicles to debut by 2020.
At present, however, Ford makes only one fully electric car, a variant of the Focus. On the other hand, Ford does sell four hybrid models in the United States.
Meanwhile, the Dearborn-based carmaker is reinforcing the Ranger’s position as the best-selling Ford worldwide, Fleet said.
Ford stopped selling the Ranger in the United States several years ago, but re-introduced it as a 2019 midsize off-roader at the North American International Auto Show last month.
Ford will also introduce the 2019 Ranger this year in China, where it sold more than a million vehicles in 2017.
Aiming for 3rd
In the 2017 total vehicle sales report of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI), Ford Philippines ranked third behind sales leader Toyota Motor Philippines and runner-up Mitsubishi Motors Philippines by selling 36,623 units.
But according to the consolidated Campi-Association of Vehicle Imports and Distributors (Avid) total vehicle sales report, Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. placed third by selling 37,678 units in 2017.
Will Ford overtake Hyundai this year by fielding a new batch of models and refreshed best-sellers?
Ford fans will have to wait until January 2019 to know.