Ford is forecasting strong demand from the fleet sector for its premium Vignale sub-brand which comes to the UK later this year, initially in the Mondeo and S-Max.
If successful it should be rolled out across the range in 2016.
Half of Ford registrations are in range topping Titanium and Titanium X trim, which has given Ford the confidence to launch Vignale.
“We have proven that Ford can exist at higher price points and we have the headroom to stretch up now that it’s one Ford,” said Ford of Britain chairman and managing director Mark Ovenden.
“There will be no rental and residual values will be strong which affects running costs. It will be very attractive in fleet.”
He believes Vignale will appeal to existing Ford customers who opt for Titanium and Titanium X and for new customers looking for greater luxury. The pricing will be “a natural step up”.
Vignale is all about refinement, quality of the interior and equipment levels. The concept is supported by the introduction of Ford Stores in the UK, retailers that offer a Vignale ownership experience including a dedicated lounge for customers and a Vignale manager who will be the point of contract for any requests or issues related to the car.
Ford has signed up 55 retailers as Ford Stores and plans a network of up to 65. Ten are up and running, with 30 expected to be complete by the end of April and the rest within the next 12 months.
“It’s a privilege for dealers to be a Ford Store. They have invested but it’s a huge opportunity and they have to adhere to the standards we have set,” said Ovenden.
However, he doesn’t want Ford Stores – who will sell all Ford models, not just Vignale - to be too exclusive, so: “Any customer can use the Vignale lounge if they want – they are all just as special to us.”