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Discussion Starter #1
Automotive News Europe

James Franey
October 1, 2007 -- 06:01 CET


The Ford S-Max is set to beat its first-year sales target, in part because it is pulling buyers from premium brands.

The large minivan is stealing buyers from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, said Stephen Odell, Ford of Europe’s vice president for marketing, sales and service.

“We are seeing a greater conversion away from premium brands than we thought we would ever see,” Odell told Automotive News Europe in a telephone interview.

Figures from UK-based market researchers JATO Dynamics show that Ford sold 47,718 S-Max units in the first seven months of 2007, its first full year of sales.

When Ford launched the S-Max in May 2006, Ford officials told ANE they wanted to produce 60,000 annually.

Odell stressed that attracting premium brand customers is not the S-Max’s goal and that the automaker will continue to concentrate on its core customers.

“In no way, are we positioning ourselves as a premium brand, but it’s nice to think that we can attract those kinds of people,” he said.

Odell credited the S-Max’s styling and its “visual impact” with the minivan’s success.

The S-Max is one of three vehicles to adopt what Ford calls “kinetic” design language -- a styling theme that has seen its lineup take on a muscular, sporty appearance. The Ford Mondeo and Galaxy share the S-Max’s vehicle platform and are built in the same plant in Genk, Belgium. All three vehicles have been well received.

Ford hit the ‘bull’s-eye’

Nick Margetts, an auto analyst at JATO Dynamics’ office in Cologne, Germany, said styling is a key element for bringing new customers to the brand.

“Ford has hit an absolute bull’s-eye in terms of design. The S-Max is not tainted by the boxy, minivan look. It drives well. It looks good, and it has been well thought out. This combination of factors is enough to pull customers from established premium brands,” Margetts said.

Paul Nieuwenhuis, director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University in Wales, says the problem with most minivans is that they are too van-like.

“Many people who buy minivans really want the handling characteristics of a car but also want to retain the practicality of a van. The closer you can get to that, the more you will sell,” he told ANE.

Mercedes-Benz expected its R class would attract some of the same premium buyers who are now purchasing the S-Max. The R clas.....


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The Ford S-Max (top) has passed the Renault Espace to become Europe’s best-selling large minivan.

S-Max success shakes Renault’s confidence
Ford’s hot seller has forced minivan leader to consider sleeker, sportier vans

Wim Oude Weernink
Automotive News Europe
October 1, 2007 -- 06:01 CET

The company that made the minivan a star in Europe has a problem.

Renault is under pressure to change its minivans to keep pace with hot-selling, sleeker, sportier models from rivals.

“Following the Ford S-Max’s success, we may have to reconsider our minivan lineup,” said Patrick Blain, Renault executive vice president for sales and marketing.

A Renault source told Automotive News Europe that the company would concentrate on developing crossover models to prevent any overlap with existing products.

“The design will be less boxy, more of a crossover between a van, and SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz R class and Audi Q7,” said the source.

Similar styling has helped the S-Max pass the Renault Espace/Grand Espace as Europe’s top-selling large minivan thro
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thought I'd add a couple of my pics of the S-Max, one showing the size difference between Focus Estate with the S-Max
 

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A very nice and smart move by Ford of Europe was to offer S-Max customers the option called "Ford Individual" back in 2007 in the
test markets of Germany & Switzerland, with much success
And will offer this across the Euro markets this year adding the Mondeo and Galaxy variants.
Besides making money on the car sales, the smart bastards are making
moneies on the cosmetics mods.

http://media.ford.com/translate/article_di...rticle_id=26958 (media release for the 2007 S-Max
'Ford Individual' is starting with pilot market programmes in Germany and Switzerland.
The first product to be featured will be the Ford S-MAX, Car of the Year 2007.
Among the packages available will be one that features leather trim throughout the interior.

'Ford Individual' features three different themes, sporty, luxury or hitec.
The 'sporty line' was designed with Ford's ST range of performance cars in mind.
It features distinctive styles of alloy wheels and spoilers, as well as interior packages with alloy pedals and scuff plates.
http://www.ford.de/ie/s-max/sm_individual/..._pop/popup/4/5/
http://www.ford.de/ie/s-max/sm_individual/.../popup/4/61128/
http://www.ford.de/ie/s-max/sm_individual/.../popup/4/61128/
http://www.ford.de/ie/s-max/sm_individual/.../popup/4/61128/
http://www.ford.de/ie/s-max/sm_individual/...31e/popup/4/36/
http://www.ford.de/ie/s-max/sm_individual/...pop/popup/4/10/

http://media.ford.com/newsroom/release_dis...m?release=26790 (media release from Frankfurt 2007 IAA)
NEW FORD MONDEO AND GALAXY TO GET THE 'FORD INDIVIDUAL' TREATMENT

'Ford Individual' programme for large car personalisation to be extended Europe-wide
'Ford Individual' concepts showcased on new Mondeo and Galaxy at Frankfurt Motor Show
Orange interior trim colour added to already available 'S-MAX Individual' production range

in German, but has a quick video clip from Frankfurt showing a "Ford Individual" look
http://www.automanager.de/Ford/iaa07ford7.htm
 
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