Saturday, 16 July 2011

Ford's Mulally uses fuel economy and technology to chase VW in Germany

Ford Motor Co., seeking to boost its image and its prices in Germany, is up against car buyers like Stefanie Weiland. "Ford's reputation over here is deplorable," said Weiland, 46, a former Ford owner, as she shopped at a Volkswagen showroom in Berlin.
"I want a car to still be in good condition, both visually and in technology terms, after 10 years. That's what you get with a VW; these cars are unbreakable."
Ford CEO Alan Mulally is aiming to replicate in Germany what he achieved in the United States: Use fuel economy and technology including voice-activated stereos to command more respect and cash from car buyers.
Ford says its retail prices lagged VW by an average of 6.3 percent in the past eight months. The automaker ranks fifth in sales, with 7.5 percent of the German market, according to J.D. Power & Associates.

That's less than half the 20.8 percent for Volkswagen AG. In Germany, Ford also trails Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz, BMW AG's core brand, General Motor Co.'s Opel brand and Audi, Volkswagen AG's premium line.
To take on VW, Ford is promoting its ties to Germany and trying to position itself as a technology leader. This month, it outfitted 1,100 German sales people with iPads loaded with a special Ford sales application that demonstrates fuel-saving technology. It is doubling the size of its stand at the IAA in Frankfurt this September, adding a test track and hands-on displays that will make it "an adult science museum," said Jim Farley, Ford global marketing chief.


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