Ford: Double debut
ALTHOUGH a concept, Ford’s new Mondeo was the star of the show as far as UK fleets are concerned.
And when the production models are revealed at next March’s Geneva Motor Show they will have a more upmarket feel than any Mondeo before.
Ford believes this is essential as it continues to come under fire in its traditional company car heartland from premium models such as Audi’s A4 and the BMW 3-series.
Roelant de Waard, chairman and managing director of Ford of Britain, said: ‘Traditional cars in this sector are in decline and the segment has scattered so we want an answer to these premium products.
‘We are bringing Mondeo to another level with premium design and class-leading hi-tech features.
‘We believe we can compete with the premium marques because apart from the feel-good badge factor there is nothing that sets these vehicle apart.’
Currently, 80% of Mondeo sales are to fleets, but de Waard sees more private and user-choosers buying the new Mondeo. As a result, retail sales will take more than 30% of sales.
Also making its debut at Paris was the IosisX (pictured), a chunky concept which points to the look of Ford’s new Focus-sized SUV which is due at the end of 2008 to rival Vauxhall’s Antara.
de Waard said: ‘There is tremendous fragmentation in the market as a whole and we have to compete in all sectors – this was one gap and we will continue to add new vehicles.’
Skoda: metamorphosis from conservative to wacky continues
SKODA debuted the second car in its transformation from conservative budget brand to wacky individualist.
The Joyster is a three-door concept city car, replete with all the multi-media and seating and carrying adaptability the youth of today need. Expect a production version in 2008 looking similar to the concept.
Of more immediate interest is the Octavia Scout, which Skoda hopes to sell to company car drivers such as surveyors and architects who need an estate car with off-road capability.
The Audi Allroad clone has four-wheel drive, jacked-up suspension and protective side mouldings, and comes with either 150bhp 2.0-litre petrol or 140bhp 2.0 TDI. Sales start in early 2007.
Audi: R8 steals the spotlight
THE buzz surrounding the launch of the 420bhp R8 supercar meant that Audi’s more prosaic offerings took a back seat at Paris, but the firm still launched two new engines from its successful FSI petrol stable.
Of interest to user-choosers will be the 1.8 TFSI petrol engine, which offers 160bhp and nearly 40mpg on the combined cycle in an A3.
At the end of this year, the A6 will get a 210bhp 2.8 FSI V6 engine which promises more than 30mpg, giving an alternative to the prevalent diesels in the sector.
Kia: challenges the big boys
KIA is taking on the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus in order to win over user-choosers to its new lower-medium hatchback.
The firm believes that its cee’d will make in-roads in the fleet market when it goes on sale next year.
Executives claim that a better quality interior, high levels of equipment and a segment-best ride and handling will see it taking business from the established fleet segment leaders.
The ambitious plans for the car include a seven-year/90,000-mile warranty which the firm claims will improve residuals and make the cee’d a strong proposition in the leasing market.
Although the plans are being kept close to its chest, Kia says it will have an innovative scheme to ensure leasing companies’ interest, which it will start to roll out to the industry in the months before the car goes on sale in early 2007.
The firm expects to sell 15,000 cee’ds a year, part of an aggressive plan to sell 55,000 Kias next year.
Later in 2007, it will launch a three-door version as well as an estate.