Ford CEO Alan Mulally
Supposedly, Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally has put a call to arms against the people’s car, Volkswagen, in Europe. Ford has stated their intention to go head-to-head with Volkswagen in Europe for marketshare. Part of their strategy, according to a Bloomberg article written by Keith Naughton, is advertising the local production of Ford cars in Europe.
When you are buying a car do you care where it is made, or how many people are employed in your country by that car manufacturer? My colleague, Warren Brown from the Washington Post has sat in the parking lot of Walmart and watched people wearing Union ballcaps go into Walmart to shop. I have done the same. Especially in these economic times, people are loyal to the almighty dollar – in God we trust, all others pay cash. If you can buy an article cheaper at one store than at another, it is like giving yourself a raise, something many people haven’t had lately.
Volkswagen has figured this out in North America. Volkswagen has not Mazda a profit in North America for eight years. The folks at Volkswagen are saying that 2011 is the year to change that. They have taken $1,700 off the asking price of the Jetta and are bringing out new products, such as a Volkswagen Passat produced in Chattanooga Tennessee, and the iconic Beetle.
On the other hand, Ford is foraging into Europe with new technology. Eco-boost will be in 90 percent of all of Ford’s cars globally by 2013. SYNC has its issues and challenges, but Ford is meeting them head-on.
There’s an aspect of SYNC that most people don’t understand – Ford’s SYNC system is not car-centric, it is app-centric. Just like your i-pod, you have access to many different programs. Many of these new programs will be offered in Europe. One of the new programs will be 112. In the United States, we have 911. Your car will call 911 if you have an accident. Now, if you are in France, or Germany, and get in an accident your car will call 112.
But what if you don’t speak the language of the country you’re in? Doug says that Ford is working on an app that will translate what you say to the operator into the language you are in, and when the operator answers you back in French, that app will translate it into English.
Sue Cischke, Ford group Vice President of Sustainability, Environment, and Safety Engineering talked about global safety and environmental challenges. Ford is bringing out a rear-seat inflatable seat belt in the Ford Flex, Explorer, and two Lincolns.
Is Ford versus Volkswagen in Europe just guerilla marketing to get people to start talking about a product and comparing Ford’s product to Volkswagens?