The new car market in the UK will remain flat next year and Ford expects to retain market leadership despite the gauntlet laid down by Vauxhall that it is chasing the number one spot.
Ford of Britain chairman and managing director Mark Ovenden said: “We keep an eye on Vauxhall as we do Volkswagen and the Koreans are growing aggressively. But there is also a big threat from the German premium brands which are increasingly coming into our territory.
“The challenge from the French makers has slowed while the Japanese have been quiet but I will not be worrying too much about what other people are doing, my focus will be on what Ford is doing.
“The economy is improving, it’s not on fire but we are happy to see slow progress and the return of consumer confidence particularly in the retail sector. The exchange rate is benign, it could be better, but on the whole at a macro level, the economy is looking good.”
Ovenden said he was particularly pleased with Ford’s retail sales to private buyers which have risen by one percent in the UK to 13 percent in the past year. He added: “That is fantastic when you consider that you normally work hard for increases of just one tenth of a percentage point. A full one percent is an endorsement of what we are doing with the brand. Fiesta is an absolute phenomenon and holds 25 percent share of its segment in retail, an impressive performance when you consider there are probably 20 other rivals you could easily choose.
“Commercial vehicles are an important market area for us and we have the new large Transit coming next year and this will be followed by the Custom, Connect and Courier versions. One area where we have not been strong is SUVs where the Kuga has held its own but it has been our only model. Our position will improve considerably with the introduction of the EcoSport and the Edge.
“To a point we could probably achieve any market share we want, but it is the quality of market share that is important.”