Why Ford Plans To Enter The Performance Car Market
Trefis Team , Contributor: 12/26/2014 @ 8:38AM
Ford Motors is setting up a new global performance division under whose umbrella it is expected to release 12 performance cars through 2020. The division will pull together the SVT team from the U.S., the RS team from Europe, and Ford Racing. The company did not reveal much about the models that can be expected from this division except for the announcement that the European Ford Focus RS, a vehicle that dates back to 1968, will be sold as a global model under the performance division. This means that the Focus RS will be available for the first time in the U.S. and elsewhere. The Focus RS will be a new addition to a portfolio of performance cars that currently includes the Focus ST, Fiesta ST, Shelby GT 350 Mustang, and F-150 Raptor. There are also rumors that the company is planning to reveal that it will enter a new model of the Ford GT, an extreme sports car that Ford offered briefly between 2004 and 2006, to the 2016 24 Hours race at Le Mans. It is being speculated that the company might release the GT with a supercharged or turbocharged V8 for retail sales.
Performance cars don’t tend to do well on the fuel-efficiency front, so it might seem like a counter-intuitive move for Ford, which has been making a big push towards making fuel-efficient products, like the all-new, aluminum bodied F-150 series of trucks, to suddenly enter this market. However, there are several good reasons for this move by Ford, including some that are supporting of the push to make more environmentally friendly cars. Below we list three such reasons.
1) Performance Vehicle sales are rising: In the U.S., sales of performance vehicles have risen by 70% since 2009. In Europe, sales have grown by 14%. In China, where Ford imports the Focus ST from the U.S., the high-performance compact vehicle has been an important brand builder for the Detroit based company.
2) Performance Vehicles bring new buyers to the brand: According to the company, nearly two-thirds of the customers who buy the high-performance ST versions of the Fiesta and Focus are newcomers to the brand. What’s more: most of these tend to become regulars with the brand, with nearly 35% going on to buy another Ford. Additionally, these buyers tend to be a lot younger. Younger people see their incomes rise faster and as a result they tend to buy ST models at twice the rate that other people buy Ford’s products.
3) Technologies developed in performance models usually improve mass-market models: Ford’s engineers usually argue that many of its high-performance and racing programs use engines from the EcoBoost line. The lessons that they learned while optimizing those engines for extreme performance are usually carried over and applied to the mainstream offerings as well. Similarly, engineers at Fiat Chrysler say that the development of the extreme Hellcat V8 engine taught them many lessons about fuel-efficiency, which allowed them to make cleaner and more fuel-efficient engines for their mass market vehicles.