Ford has exceeded its targets on the new Focus, leaving it short of supplies.
According to Kevin Griffin, Ford director of fleet operations, fleets may have to wait a little longer for deliveries, although he expects the situation to be resolved soon.
“Our sales are ahead of targets in fleet year-to-date so we are short on the ground for some models, especially Focus – we have oversold,” he told Fleet News. “We have seen a huge uptake among user-choosers for the new Focus; it has broadened our appeal.”
While Ford’s total fleet share is fairly flat, its sales mix has become richer as the carmaker continued its four-year policy of reversing out of some less profitable short-term rental business in order to focus on true fleet sales to corporates and leasing companies.
The company retains a strong presence in daily rental, although the strategy is to “have some volume with every major player spread around depending on terms and tactics”, Griffin said. Ford continues to buy back all rental vehicles which are in demand by its retail network.
The new 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost petrol engine has grabbed a large slice of the retail business, accounting for around 22% of sales, although fleet interest has been slower.
Nevertheless, Griffin calls it a “viable alternative” and says a number of companies have it under consideration.
“It will take longer in fleet because diesel is so dominant and we have a very good diesel engine,” he said. “But if pump prices keep apart there could be more interest.”
Griffin also points to Euro6 diesel engines which could see price rises for fleets when introduced in 2014. The technology to meet the regulation, which requires lower NOx and other particulate emissions, requires significant investment.
In the heavy truck market this has resulted in prices rises of £10,000 which resulted in a massive pull forward of sales ahead of the introduction of the new technology.
Could the same happen in the car and van sector? “It will be flatter, but petrol may provide a more considered alternative to diesel at that time,” Griffin said.