Ford dealer: Leases crucial to boosting market share
Beau Smith: To be competitive, “we’ll have to have competitive leases.”
If the Ford brand is going to regain market share in the United States this year, leases will be a critical part of the equation, said Beau Smith, chairman of the Ford National Dealer Council.
"If we're going to be competitive and reach market share goals in the super segment particularly, we'll have to have competitive leases," said Smith. In Ford Motor Co. parlance, the so-called super segment includes the Ford Focus, Escape, Fusion and Fiesta.
Improved quality and increased market share are major priorities for dealers in 2013, said Smith, co-owner of Sill-TerHar Motors, which has a Ford dealership in suburban Denver.
In 2012, Ford brand's share of the U.S. light-vehicle market dropped to 14.9 percent, from 16.1 percent in 2011. Ford officials have not publicly given a market-share target for 2013.
With an assist from a more aggressive leasing strategy, Smith said he believes Ford can outperform the market in 2013.
"We need to increase market share. The challenge for 2012 was production. We didn't have enough. If we had had enough, we would have sold more. As we get that capacity back in the second half of 2013, we need to be more aggressive and try to gain the share back," he said. "We will have a chance to grow share quicker than the industry in 2013. To do that, we're going to have to really be better than the competition at retail."
Smith praised Ford Motor Credit Co., Ford's captive finance arm, for helping dealers offer more competitive lease and finance packages.
"Ford Credit had to work their tails off to be there for dealers when things got tough. As Ford has reached investment grade, there's an opportunity to make the mathematics of that relationship make more sense. They've worked to give us every competitive advantage," he said.
Ford brand had a busy and challenging launch schedule in 2012 with one all-new and two redesigned vehicles: the C-Max, Fusion and Escape. But there were problems, including four recalls for the Escape.
"There were some hiccups in the launches, but there were fixes. From a product standpoint we have two fantastic products in the showroom," Smith said. Judging the launches themselves, "If you have to give it a grade, it's not an A-plus, but probably a B."
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