Ford of Britain’s Andy Barratt outlines new model’s role in urban mobility solutions to Paul Myles. [Mob.Myles.2016.11.22]
Mobility is a key part of Ford’s future strategy and few of its models exemplifies this better than the new super-sized mini, Ford Ka+.
This Indian built vehicle that has grown from a three-door hatch into a five-door that’s just a little bit smaller than its Fiesta sibling.
And this radical growth makes it and ideal model to fit into the future mobility solutions that young urban consumers are demanding, said Andy Barratt Ford of Britain’s MD and chairman.
Speaking to TU-Automotive at the car’s UKlaunch in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London’s East End, Barratt said: “What we are seeing with mobility is defined by generation in the way it is changing. Older people are still set in the ways with the conventional view of motoring in a car that they own and that they want to use all the time.
“As we look towards the younger city dwellers, they are not totally reliant on a car but when they do have a car for essential needs carrying stuff they can’t get onto public transport then, for them, Ka+ really does fall into their requirement. That’s because the capacity of the car will take most of the things you’d want to buy at stores like IKEA, for example.”
A short drive showed it to be a capable city car with a softly tuned 1.2-litre 85PS four cylinder engine it’s sprightly enough but it’s the internal capacity that will attract entry-level drivers. The car has much more room inside comfortably seating four adults and a boot capacity of 270-litres. The Zetec specification also boasts an impressive connectivity package withFord’s SYNC voice-activated communications and entertainment system with AppLink that enables voice-activation of a range of smartphone apps and emergency assistance.
There’s also Ford MyKey, which allows owners to set maximum speed and audio volume limits and ensure safety features are not disabled when the car is being used by other people.
Barratt said currently sales are dominated by personal contract purchase (PCP) plans – a flexible form of leasing that allows retention of return of the vehicle after a given period. In the Ka+’s case these start from £119 a month, said Barratt: “That’s marginally above what they pay for a many mobile phone packages.”
He continued: “The way we are seeing people adopt conventional gasoline powered cars is only ever on a monthly access basis. People want to have that mobility solution on a monthly price point and when it comes to the end of the PCP, they’re just rolling it on to the next one. At the moment we have an 85% penetration on sales with PCPwith about a 95% renewal rate.”
But Barratt believes the model is also well placed to access the growing car-sharing culture in European cities. He said: “We have just run a Go Drivepilot in Londonthat worked quite well but it would need critical mass to work properly. There are city car clubs like Zipcar, where the Ka+ would work very well but what we have seen emerging elsewhere around Europeis the emergence of owner-driven car-sharing schemes. The Ka+ sits really well in that portfolio because in those portfolios you will have people with premium cars with a premium daily rate down to a small city car with an entry level rate. I believe the Ka+ has enough of the premium feel to it that it becomes quite attractive versus its opposition on a car club scheme.
“It works whether that’s for corporate city car club through to conventional peer-to-peer lending or even multiple ownership models. We have experimented with multiple owners of a PCPso that £119 a month could be shared by four people and then the car-sharing options becomes a reality for many users.”
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