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Ford plans radical Mondeo makeover

THE next Ford Mondeo will be a completely different type of vehicle when it is unveiled in 2006, the firm's chief operating officer Nick Scheele has revealed.

The changes will be part of extra versatility to be built into next-generation Ford models in a bid to halt declining sales of its models in the traditional upper-medium sector.

Scheele said the sector in which the Mondeo currently competes is 'crumbling' because of a dramatic shift to other types of vehicle, such as MPVs.

He said: 'The sector for this car is crumbling across Europe. There has been a radical shift out of Mondeo-size vehicles and it is happening at a surprising rate.

'The sector is being hit by three issues – a shift to premium cars, different incentives on fuel and, significantly in the UK, CO2 taxation on company cars. As a result of the latter, people have downsized into lower-medium models. Many of them feel that if they are going to have to pay company car tax, they might as well drive premium models, so that exacerbates reasons number one and three.

'The result is that Ford is in a very difficult position. We still see a market for a lower or upper-medium car, but it may be a different type vehicle in future – a people carrier as well as a saloon.

'The shift in the market has accelerated in the past couple of years at a rate that I would never have believed, but the UK remains an important market and it is vital that we remain as market leader.'

Speaking at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Scheele said Ford continued to be hit hard by the strength of sterling against the euro.

He added: 'Exchange rates give a windfall advantage to some while being unfair to others. In Britain, the swing has been a major hit for us because the UK has always been our most important European market.

'But because Britain has been the place to make money as a result of the strength of sterling, other makers came after the market leader. It's pretty easy to chip away at a market leader if you do it with price, and the exchange rate has enabled Citroen to give customers a 17.5% reduction, which is something people in the US find difficult to believe.

'But we're back on track now, and I think we will see our market share improve as a result of having the best product range.'

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