Ford says demand for upscale vehicles in Europe growing

Ford says demand for upscale vehicles in Europe growing.

Ford to Unveil Mondeo Vignale Concept in Frankfurt

The auto maker says following the launch of the production Mondeo Vignale in 2015, other models will receive the upscale treatment.

Ford is counting on its new Mondeo Vignale concept, set to be unveiled tomorrow at the Frankfurt auto show, to draw the attention of European luxury-car buyers.

The auto maker says the concept offers a glimpse of the upcoming Vignale production vehicle, which boasts unique design touches, high-quality craftsmanship and advanced technologies and is due to hit dealerships in 2015.

The concept will be shown in sedan and wagon versions, both featuring 20-in. alloy wheels, high-quality paint, Vignale badging, chrome door handles and mirror caps, mesh grille and distinct front bumper and fog lamps.

Other upgrades over the base Mondeo include leather armrests and seats, as well as leather that lines the steering wheel, instrument panel and center console. Embossed scuff plates and luxury floor mats complete interior enhancements.

“Influences that range from architecture to fashion combine to create for the (concept) a sense of high quality and a feeling of timelessness,” Stefan Lamm, exterior design director, says in a statement.

Ford also plans to establish a unique purchasing experience for Vignale customers, with dealers offering higher service levels and stress-free environments where buyers can select Vignale-exclusive materials, colors and technologies. Other upgraded services include free lifetime car washes, pick-up and delivery for vehicle service and invitations to exclusive events.

The auto maker is launching the Vignale while its European arm is struggling to recover from an economic recession, though outperforming the market overall.

Ford sales in 19 European markets the auto maker tracks rose 8.7% in July compared with year-ago to 90,000 vehicles, while overall industry sales increased 4.3%.

Spokesman Mark Schirmer says Ford decided to launch the Vignale in Europe following the success of its uplevel Titanium-trim vehicles.

“Trends in Europe right now, and what we’re hearing from customers, show there is demand for high-spec vehicles and that ownership experience,” he tells WardsAuto. “We’re seeing that in society and from our customers.”

According to Ford, higher-content models account for more than half its large-car sales in Europe.

The auto maker is revamping its luxury Lincoln division, with plans to offer several new models in the coming years in North America and launch the brand in China.

Lincoln was not a logical choice for introduction in Europe, however, Schirmer says.

“In Europe, we don’t have Lincoln,” he says, noting one reason for its absence in the region is the high cost of launching a new brand against such entrenched competition. “China is a huge and growing market, and the explosive premium growth is a different opportunity than in Europe, which is a mature market.”

Ford says after the production Mondeo Vignale is launched in 2015, other models will receive the upscale treatment, although it does not identify the vehicles.

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