Ford Pushes Upmarket in Europe with Vignale
In a bid to cut losses and expand its product range to wealthier European car buyers, Ford is planning to release higher-end versions of existing models under a new moniker, Vignale. The company needs the plan to work too. The Blue Oval has not returned a profit in the European market since 2010. The move pivots on Ford’s confidence that premium interiors, expansive customer service, and additional exclusivity will yield more affluent patrons. Research firm IHS Automotive seems to support those claims, showing estimates that Ford’s European sales could jump by 25 percent to 1.65 million cars by 2020, if Ford does indeed release 25 new or updated models by 2017. However, Ford isn’t the only one planning to expand into new market shares. Peugeot has plans to separate its identity from Citroen by advancing the DS marque further upmarket. Fiat Chrysler is readying plans for Jeep, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo to expand its ranks by banking on its established reputations. All while BMW, Mercedes, and Audi continue to push down-market to nab entry-level luxury sales. RELATED: See more photos of the Ford Mondeo Vignale concept
The Bavarians appear to be Ford’s biggest stumbling block to returning upscale profits in Europe. In a recent Reuters article, Ford’s European sales chief Roelant de Waard commented that one in six owners of Ford’s S-MAX had previously driven a German luxury car.
Ford plans to differentiate the upscale Vignale marque by establishing exclusive customer lounges at 500 of its 2,400 European dealerships. In concept, the Vignale lineup doesn’t offer any further performance enhancements from regular models, but the exclusivity might be enough of a draw. European buyers can expect a Vignale Mondeo and Vignale S-MAX MPV by the end of 2014. For those looking for classic Ford muscle – the iconic Mustang goes on sale in 2015 as well.
RELATED: See more photos of the Ford S-MAX