Ford to Launch Four New SUV Models in New Segments in Next 4 Years
In the next four years, Ford Motor Company (Ford) will add four new SUV models globally in segments where it currently doesn’t compete in order to take advantage of strong demand for utility vehicles, a top Ford official told members of the media at the Chicago Auto Show this week.
Ford research shows that once millennials (80-million strong) begin to think about starting a family, their interest in shopping for an SUV goes up significantly, according to Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Co. vice president of marketing, sales and service. He also noted that boomers—also representing 80 million U.S. citizens—may stay with or return to an SUV because of easier entry/exit and the appeal of driving a youthful vehicle.
In addition, LaNeve pointed out that the fuel efficiency of newer SUVs is another plus since some of these vehicles now rival the fuel economy of late-model V-6-powered midsize sedans. LaNeve also noted that even if gas prices go up, refueling costs will be much less than they were during the last SUV boom.
Ford currently produces two SUV models that are dominant sellers in their respective vehicle segment: the Ford Escape and Ford Explorer. Both led their segment in sales during January 2016 and also were among the top 10 best-sellers in the U.S. market in 2015, according to analysis from J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive.
Currently, Ford and its Lincoln premium brand have entries in six of eight SUV segments in the U.S. market, but do not offer a small or small premium SUV model. Introducing smaller entries may be in the cards. The Small SUV category in the U.S. market has 15 entries with a combined 5.1% market share. Sales of these vehicles soared 73.5% in January vs. the year-ago month, based on J.D. Power-LMC Automotive data. New entries could perhaps include a derivative from the small Fiesta-based EcoSport urban SUV in Ford’s global portfolio, and a new Ranger-based Bronco that is anticipated for 2020, according to the Ford-UAW (United Auto Workers) contract and media reports.