Volume automakers aim to move upmarket in Europe as a way to boost profits in a domestic market set to decline for a sixth consecutive year. Ford's upscale strategy focuses on the Vignale premium trim line, which was unveiled last month at the Frankfurt auto show. Ford's European marketing head, Gaetano Thorel, shared details on Vignale's targets -- and limits -- with Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri.
Why does Ford need Vignale?
In many segments where Ford competes we see a healthy mix of sales for high-series vehicles, but we do not have any entries in the upper 15 percent of the price band. This shows us there is a space for Vignale above our traditional lineup. In addition, we are seeing a significant change in consumer expectations as people look for a more individual relationship with brands while still expecting good value, great quality and high levels of technology.
Ford's high-performance ST-badged models are at the top of your European price range. Where will Vignale fit?
The Vignale trim line will be priced like an ST model but attract a completely different type of customer: someone looking for style, comfort and dedicated services. In Europe, entry-level models account for about 10 percent of Ford's sales, medium-trim models are 40 percent, high-trim Titanium models are 45 percent and ST models account for about 5 percent.