Ford seems to be taking a page with out of the Porsche Playbook with the fender-mounted gas electron cap.
I sat down recently, not face-to-face or anything so taxing and onerous, but over the phone, to talk with Ford Canada’s Vice President of Sales, Scott Cauvel. We talked about life, the universe, and everything Douglas Adams, but not exclusively. Our extensive conversing also happened upon the company he works for.
Going into the interview, I was looking forward to probing the fields of Scott’s mind, incepting notions of 500hp, 50 mpg Fiestas with all-wheel drive. And that’s exactly what I did. And more. I only hope that those seeds will be nourished lovingly and flourish into the mature reality that every Canadian car enthusiast dreams of.
But on to the main programme: The Future of Ford. Here’s what Scott had to say, intermixed with a few interpretations of my own.
1. The Electrificated Focus you see above, which is set to bow at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show this weekend, will eventually be sold in Canada. Although a battery supplier has not been named, the units could come from Detroit-based Azure Dynamics, the company providing batteries for the Transit Connect Electric, which will also be coming to Canada. I think that this is inspiring news for Canadian enthusiasts who want to balance their environmental impact with an electric car. (But perhaps we’ll save a discussion of the environmental merits and harms of electric cars for another time).
2.Ford is also working with utility companies in Canada to ensure that the infrastructure will have the capacity to cope with the increased demands imposed by electric cars. To me, this shows an understanding of the greater issues that confront electric car adoption.
3. Despite the Fiat 500’s imminent arrival to our market and GM’s Chevy Spark not far behind, Ford has no plans to play “me too” by bringing its European Ford Ka to our winterscape. Ford beleives that the Fiesta offers a sufficiently broad range of options for consumers, and frankly, I’m inclined to agree. Still, as ever, Ford will be keeping an eye on the segment.
4. Scott said during the interview that Ford had no plans to re-enter the minivan market, citing the 7-seat capacity of the Flex and new Explorer. Evidently, the 2012 Ford C-Max slipped his mind.
And what of current-day Ford, how is it faring in today’s wavering marketplace?
1. Fiesta sales have been strong, but still lag the Honda Fit. The B-segment still isn’t that big in Canada, at least not compared to the C-segment, which Ford is set to reposition itself with the 2012 Focus. Perhaps the Fiesta could be bumped up by EcoBoost, I queried? Scott agreed, but claims that there are no plans to introduce such an engine to our market. Shame.
2. Ford is number one in fleet sales in Canada, a crown that Chrysler bears down south. This sounds applaudable in theory, but I think that it could lead to an unhealthy addiction to quarterly and annual sales volumes that prop up stock prices and consumer confidence alike. This isn’t a title that Ford necessarily needs. Or, if I take my cynical hat off for a moment, maybe Ford’s investment in powertrains and closing the quality gap have paid off and consumers have taken notice.
3. Sales of trucks are set to overtake sales of cars in Canada for the first time in recent memory, and the Ford F-150 is the number one selling truck in the country. Scott believes that 2010 will prove anomalous because higher gas prices and new C-segment entries like the Focus, Cruze, and Elantra will tip the scale back in favour of the car. 2010 saw so many trucks sold due to incentives and because “as the economy starts to rebound, trucks are a tool for businesses” to increase productivity and pick themselves up by the bootstraps.
These were the salient, Ford-related points of discourse – a glimmer into the giant blue oval. Just today, it was announced that Ford Canada has overtaken GM Canada for the first time in over 50 years, and that the company sold 97,913 F-150s, the most for a single model ever in Canadian automotive history. I guess Scott must be doing something right.
Thank you to Scott Cauvel for his generous time and to Dean Heuman for arranging the interview.
[Image credits: Ford]