Will Ford's (NYSE:F) all-new Edge be nice enough to steal sales from the German luxury-car brands?
Americans might be inclined to downplay that possibility. On the surface, the all-new 2015 Edge isn't all that different from Ford's current midsize crossover SUV. It's a little sleeker, a little sportier in some versions, but for the most part it looks a lot like the current Ford Edge.
But the new Edge built on the sophisticated architecture developed for the current Ford Fusion, so the new Edge should ride and handle like a more upscale vehicle. And inside, the all-new Edge follows Ford's recent approach of including -- at a price -- features and options normally associated with much more expensive luxury cars and SUVs.
Still, the new Edge might not get much traction against BMW (NASDAQOTH:BAMXF) and Audi -- at least in the U.S. But as Motley Fool senior auto specialist John Rosevear explains in this video, Ford's European leaders expect that premium versions of the all-new Edge will help Ford steal sales from BMW and Audi on the German luxury leaders' home turf.
A transcript of the video is below.
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John Rosevear: Hey Fools, it's John Rosevear, senior auto specialist for Fool.com. Ford recently showed off its all-new Edge SUV, the new Edge looks a lot like the current model but it's a bit sleeker, with more upscale touches in the interior, and it should have improved ride and handling because it's on a more advanced architecture that's shared with Ford's Fusion sedan.
It'll hit Ford dealers in the first part of next year, and it should do well, Ford's newest models going back to the Focus in 2011 have nearly all been solid hits.
But what's interesting is that the new Edge is following Ford's recent approach of offering more features, usually as options, that are more typical of luxury brand vehicles. You can get a Fusion with leather and an advanced touchscreen stereo system and a whole lot of high-tech safety features, and of course the basic car itself is quiet and solid with a sophisticated ride, it really does compare surprisingly well with much more expensive cars from the German luxury brands.
And Ford is taking that approach with the Edge, too, and in Europe at least they actually are going to aim it at some luxury contenders. Ford Europe sales chief Roelant de Waard said at the Edge's European launch event that it will be aimed at affluent customers considering vehicles like the Audi Q5.
Of course, to do that, the Edge will come with some options that are unlikely to be offered here in the U.S., Ford plans to offer two different diesels in the Edge in Europe. But this is new ground for Ford, the company doesn't currently sell anything like the Edge in Europe.
It does offer the Kuga, which is the European name for the Ford Escape, but it hasn't offered a larger SUV in Europe in many years. Gas prices are very high in Europe and customers tend to favor smaller vehicles, but fuel-efficient crossover SUVs have found a following in recent years. SUVs were just 10% of European passenger car sales in 2008 but they were up to 21% last year, according to trade publication Automotive News, so there's a real opportunity for Ford with a product category it does pretty well.
The Q5 does fairly well in Europe for Audi, and Ford is hoping that the Edge will add 20,000 sales a year to Ford's SUV efforts in the Old World. Ford sold 90,000 SUVs in Europe last year and it is hoping to triple that total by 2018. It's off to a good start, European sales of the Kuga were up 38% this year through May, and Ford is also launching the subcompact EcoSport SUV in Europe as well. The EcoSport is a small SUV originally developed for emerging markets. It's based on the Fiesta's platform which gives you an idea of its size. It's built in India, it just went on sale in Europe and Ford says it already has 16,000 orders.
So Ford's SUVs, including the all-new Edge, are emerging as a key part of the company's European turnaround strategy, and in Europe at least the Edge is going to be aimed at the likes of Audi and BMW. Thanks for watching.
John Rosevear owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends BMW and Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.