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RVs and strong lease prices will help launch Focus

The Managing Director of Ford, Andy Barratt, believes that good RVs, backed by strong leases, will help re-establish Focus with fleets
Andy Barratt with new Ford Focus
Ford Managing Director Andy Barratt: strong lease prices will help re-establish Focus with fleets

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26 April 2018

ANDY Barratt, Ford’s engaging Managing Director, is never backward in extolling the virtues of his cars.

Famously, when the new Mustang was launched, he would fill up his Mustang at a fuel station and if someone showed genuine interest would let them go for a quick spin in it.

But the Focus is a serious car for Ford that does big numbers for the brand.

And the new Ford Focus is on sale now in both five-door hatch and estate bodystyles from £17,930 with September delivery.

“It looks a winner. For me it’s got a confident stance. I love the styling particularly the muscular bonnet,” commented Andy Barratt at the car’s world debut in east London earlier this month (April 2018).

“The car feels confident and how that translates to me is that people who drive Focus will not be hung up on badge snobbery. They are driving in a great car where they’ve made an intelligent choice – it’s the best in class in so many aspects.”

The Ford Focus is available in seven editions: Style; Zetec; ST-Line; ST-Line X; Titanium; Titanium X and Vignale.

As well as the five-door hatch, and estate, the range will be joined by an Active crossover model with a more rugged appearance for lifestyle appeal. Active arrives early 2019.

New Ford Focus Active
New Active model – extends range in 2019

 

“As you gain more breadth into your range you become less reliant on one model to hit the numbers. So increasing the range available with the new Active means you can retain more value across the range,” explains Andy.

The Active model, already available on Fiesta, is expected to provide 15% of Fiesta volume once it is fully up to speed and that’s where Andy sees the ambition for Focus Active.

“Active brings a rugged aspect to a mainstream car,” he says. “I think the five-door Focus Active is the best looking of the new model. As long as we can get the lease price right on it we can offer something different – and that’s where it will work really well.”

 

Ford Focus ST 2017 Model Year
Current Ford Focus ST: part of product-led run out programme

Running out old model Focus

The transition from one model range to another is always a tricky affair to manage, but when Focus is responsible for nearly 70,000 units (2017 figures) it’s critical to get it right, balancing volume against distressing sales to clear stock.

But Barratt is quite clear on the matter.

“We’ve built the current series to appeal to retail. So there’s lots of ST-Line in in the current model mix – 28% in fact – and the current ST-Line is visually strong and strong on RVs.

“The other thing it’s important for buyers that they don’t see equity slip. So we’ve made it a product led run out rather than a price slashed run out.”

Andy also adds that there is no rental business on current Focus and no self-registrations – the same as Fiesta.

“We’re leaving out anything that commoditises the brand. There’s obviously a volume trade off to do that but we are building value in the cars.”

Ford Focus ST 2017 Model Year
Focus ST-Line: expected to be volume model for corporates and SME market

The fleet plan for new Focus

Barratt wants the Ford Focus to re-establish its presence with the major fleets, supplied through the leasing companies.

Barratt believes it will work because “newness is everything”. And as well as the visual appeal of the vehicles, there’s plenty of leading edge technology in the vehicles, too.

Barratt also believes, the new Focus will be super competitive on lease rentals.

“The RV estimates we’ve had back suggest that we’ll be set for an aggressive lease price on the new car. CAP was really impressed with the new Focus.

“I’m not going to do short cycle business. I’m confident we’ll get strong RVs and strong lease prices.”

Andy believes the sporting appeal of the ST-Line will make it the in-demand car.

For corporate fleets, Ford expects the following model split:

  • ST-Line 50%
  • Titanium 20%
  • Vignale 15%
  • Zetec 15%

As for the SME market, Barratt sees this skewed more towards ST-Line.

The new Focus fuel mix

“We’ll see more growth in petrol with diesel falling back,” believes Andy as the uncertainty around powertrains created by the Government continues.

“Consumers need re-education about the perceived stigma of driving a diesel. If I’m around town then petrol works for me; the efficiency of our 1.0 petrol is so good that it’s closing the gap to diesel.

“When diesel comes into its own is on the motorway where there are no air quality concerns.

“So we have the right engine choices for the moment.”

Which means that the new Ford Focus is launching without any electrification in the line up.

However, a mild hybrid will arrive in late 2019 or early 2020.

“That’s not a problem for us,” argues Andy. “Hybrids are not critical in that market at the moment. We will hit the sweet spot on demand as critical mass rises.”

New Ford Focus range at London launch of the new Ford Focus
Key models in the new Ford Focus range

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Ralph Morton

Ralph Morton

Ralph Morton is an award-winning journalist and the founder of Business Car Manager (now renamed Business Motoring). Ralph writes extensively about the car and van leasing industry as well as wider fleet and company car issues. A former editor of What Car?, Ralph is a vastly experienced writer and editor and has been writing about the automotive sector for over 35 years.

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