Speaking with Australian media at the Ford GT Innovation forum in Detroit yesterday, Ford Performance division boss David Pericak said performance cars made financial sense for Ford.
“Not only is it a profitable business, we have seen sales growth in performance vehicles,” he said.
Globally, performance cars have seen growth figures of 70 per cent in recent years while markets such as Europe have increased by 14 per cent. In Australia, the sub-$80,000 sports car segment is down 14.7 per cent so far this year (January-April compared with 2014) while the $80,000-$200,000 segment remains steady. Interestingly, the $200,000-plus segment has grown by an impressive 29 per cent so far in 2015.
Pericak, who’s in charge of the unified division that incorporates SVT, Team RS and Ford Racing says vehicles such as the Ford GT supercar are vital for the brand's image.
“[It] allows us to attract new customers into our brand, which is really important, and also obviously retain existing customers because they get excited about products like this. It also develops relationships with younger customers, which is really setting up the future.”
The growth in Ford’s performance brand is driven by the customer demand according to Pericak, and cars such as the Fiesta ST and Focus ST and RS are helping establish relationships early with car enthusiasts.
“A lot of people wonder is the new generation getting away from cars in general and performance cars? I say no, as humans we just have this love for the automobile we’ve always had throughout the years and I don’t think that’s dying.
“I think our ability to deliver that in a different and more efficient way is what’s really attractive to the younger generation and so I think that’s why they see smart products like Focus or Fiesta ST.”
Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) closed down in late 2014, however Ford Australia continues to import the Fiesta and Focus ST, while the next-generation super-hot Focus RS will land early in 2016.
The arrival of the Ford Mustang late this year will also bolster Ford’s local performance car credentials.