Ford is looking to conquest up to a third of buyers for its new Fiesta and will be training dealers to understand how to relate to the new customer base.
Much of the conversation will with buyers will need to centre on an appreciation for the vehicle’s internal and external attractions rather than price, according to Ford of Britain chairman and managing director Roelant de Waard.
He says Ford has put much greater emphasis on the design of the car to appeal to a younger audience and more female buyers. He recognises that some rivals have enjoyed strong sales success purely on the look of the car, although he’s reluctant to name names.
“It’s all about style in this sector. If the car doesn’t put a smile on your face with its looks and equipment, you end up having to give discounts – brides – to customers,” he told AM at the press launch in Siena, Italy.
“People take as a given that Ford is a sensible, rational purchase – we have the substance and quality – but we were lacking in desire and the things that make them feel good about ownership. So we put a lot of thought into the design.”
He added: “The design will appeal to customers who previously bought other vehicles. Dealers have to understand the interests of these types of buyers.
“For example, the mobile phone inspired interface will resonate with people that are into iPods and web communities.”
De Waard expects to “do well with the French” – cars like the Clio and 207 – and forecasts sales of 104,000 next year. He has stocks of around 15,000 current Fiestas to run out by the end of the year with an overlap against 30,000 units of the new model, which goes on sale in October.
The current car is, on average, £340 cheaper than the new one and will also be loaded with equipment. The feature car, for instance, is the Zetec Blue which has Bluetooth and other equipment included as standard.
“We will increase the spec on the run out car as the value gap with the new Fiesta will be larger than the £340 price difference,” de Waard said.
De Waard also said he was confident that the new crop of buyers will be younger than the current average age of 46 for B-segment buyers.
The new Fiesta is priced from £9,295 and will be available in 15 colours, one of which is the ‘hot magenta’ which was used on the Fiesta’s concept, the Verve. Ford is expecting 1.5% of buyers to specify their new Fiesta in the ‘hot magenta’ colour.
De Waard reckons the colour could by chosen by as many as 15% once people start to see the car on the road, pointing to the popularity of the current ST version of Fiesta and Focus where the distinctive electric orange colour is chosen by up to 30% of buyers. The TV ad campaign for the new Fiesta starts on September 19.