Last year, Ford reorganized itself into 3 new divisions. Ford Blue will focus on conventional cars with infernal combustion engines. Ford Pro will concentrate on commercial vehicles — which could be either conventional or electric. Ford e is all about building and marketing electric vehicles.
In the US, Ford currently offers 3 battery-electric vehicles — the F-150 Lightning, the Mustang Mach-E, and the E-Transit. But in Europe, the company is further along with building electric cars for private use. In a press release this week, it said it will introduce a new vision designed to make discovering, testing, buying, and owning its products not only simpler, but also more satisfying — starting with Ford electric vehicles. CleanTechnica readers, who are all above average, may notice some similarities to how an electric car upstart — let’s call it Brand T — has been marketing its cars for the past 10 years or so.
The company, in partnership with its retail partners across Europe, is entirely reimagining the customer journey to EV ownership, with online access and touchpoints available every step of the way, Ford says.
The new approach will introduce online showrooms and virtual test drives for exploring products and services from the comfort of your sofa in the living room or during a 10-minute break while at work. Big decisions will be easier to make with transparent pricing that comes with no surprises. Ford says its customers will now be able to personalize their vehicle handover, access charging, and arrange pickup and delivery for servicing with a few clicks on their smartphone.
Hmmm…an adult system designed by and for adults. What a refreshing idea. It almost brings back the touchy-feely friendliness of GM’s Saturn division in the 90s.
Ford unveiled its proposals to its retail partners (known as franchise dealers in America) at a Bring On Tomorrow Live event in Copenhagen this week. Those partners will be fundamental to delivering a next generation customer experiences for those who want to buy a Ford product. The company is on track to deliver 10 new electric models in Europe by 2024, including the new E-Tourneo Courier (see below) multi-activity vehicle, which was also unveiled at the event in Copenhagen.
“We’re well on the way to becoming an electric passenger car brand by 2030, with a uniquely comprehensive line-up of vehicles already introduced and inspired by an understanding that EV customers see the world differently,” said Martin Sander, general manager, Ford Model e, Europe. “Our vision is to make it easier and more appealing than ever for customers to discover, buy and own the right electric vehicle for them, whether switching to electric for the first time or already an experienced owner.”
By making it easier for greater numbers of customers to go electric, Ford’s new customer experience will support the company’s commitments to achieving carbon neutrality for its European operations, logistics, and direct suppliers by 2035, and building a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable transportation future.
Ford Wants To Change Customer Expectations
The new generation of consumers has a fresh attitude to car buying inspired by online shopping experiences that is as progressive as the vehicles they want to own. Research shows 91% of customers prefer buying online if the process is seamless.
Ford will let customers slide effortlessly between digital and real-world touchpoints as best suits them. That could mean completing entire purchases in just a few clicks using Ford official online channels and showrooms, visiting dealerships and Ford Stores for information and updates from product experts, or a combination of both.
An innovative virtual experience for the new all electric Ford Explorer (European version) brought test drives into the digital age earlier this year. Customers will also be able to go online to book real-world test drives around their busy schedules when the adventure-ready E-Tourneo Courier crossover arrives in showrooms. Vehicles can be delivered to them, already charged to a minimum of 150 km.
Research also shows 77% of car buyers prefer fixed prices, so they know up front how much they will pay, and for what. That’s why Ford is already making haggling a thing of the past for customers in the Netherlands with transparent pricing. The company plans to roll out the “agency model” across Europe to ensure that customers get a consistent price, whether they shop online or at the store of their choice.
Ford is also tackling the single most frustrating factor for car buyers, according to the New Car Buyers Survey — uncertainty about when their new car will arrive. Clear communication, online visibility of the order status, and the ability to book delivery slots online will help customers plan ahead and save them time. Customers will also be able to arrange for their new vehicles to be delivered to their driveway, an option that 69% of younger car buyers say they want.
Every new vehicle will arrive loaded with the latest available software packages, which can be improved with over-the-air updates. Drivers will enjoy the latest technologies from Ford, such as BlueCruise, which enables hands-free driving on selected highways, and systems that can wirelessly integrate smartphone functionalities.
The new Ford customer experience is designed to continue making life easier for owners even after purchase. Ongoing support includes access to one of Europe’s largest charging networks, with more than 450,000 chargers, growing to 500,000 by 2024, at-home charging solutions, as well as pick-up and delivery for servicing that can be scheduled online.
“Ford’s commitment is to treat customers like family. That means understanding what they need from us to help them live their best lives and then pulling out all the stops to make it happen,” Sander said. “Our network of retail partners across Europe is key to transforming the Ford buying and owning experience — building on the relationships and reputations formed over decades and backed by a new generation of digital tools and forward thinking.”
Meet The Ford E-Tourneo Courier
Ford used the Copenhagen event to introduce the E-Tourneo Courier, a passenger version of the E-Tourneo van. As the word van suggests, this is a throwback vehicle to the days when people first discovered that commercial vans outfitted with captain’s chairs, shag rugs, and a mattress in back made dandy roadtrip vehicles. Chrysler invented the modern minivan with the Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager twins, and the E-Tourneo Courier brings that idiom forward to the modern age.
The vehicle makes no pretense of being a coupé, a sedan, an SUV, a crossover, or anything but what it is — a box on wheels designed to provide the maximum amount of space for those inside and all their stuff. Try THAT in your ID.5! To my eye, it resembles my mom’s 1953 Nash Rambler wagon — a car celebrated in a song by Carly Simon for its “fold back seats” — but with a higher roof.
Details are hard to find, but Ford says the new adventure vehicle will accept up to 100 kW of charging power from a DC charger or 11 kW from an AC charger. Charging from 10 to 80% should take about 35 minutes, according to Ford. 10 to 100% on AC takes a little less than 6 hours, the company says.
The car is 4.4 meters long and has “SUV inspired” design language, which apparently refers to a faux skid plate beneath the front bumper. There is a frunk with a 44-liter capacity, and Ford says there is 40% more cargo room in the back than in the prior Tourneo van. Range, pricing, battery size, and other details will be released closer to the start of production in Romania in 2024.
“We created the Tourneo Courier to help our customers make the most of their lives, whether they’re traveling with family and friends, or coming home with the rear seats folded and bikes in the trunk,” says Amko Leenarts , chief designer of Ford Europe. “The SUV-like design language allows for a spacious interior at the same time. Modern details typical of electric mobility ensure a certain exclusivity and underline the role of the E-Tourneo Courier as part of Ford’s electric revolution.”
“Products like the E-Tourneo Courier define the future of Ford in Europe — fully electric, connected, and fueled by a desire for adventure,” said Martin Sander, general manager for Ford Model e, Europe. “The Tourneo Courier is the latest example of our multi-billion dollar investment in electric vehicles and represents our commitment to produce connected and desirable vehicles for our customers.”
The more customer-friendly policies announced by Ford this week will be welcome news to customers who are used to being slapped around by dealers who model their sales tactics on oriental rug merchants. Dealers in the US are protected by aggressive franchise dealer laws that significantly limit the power of manufacturers to rein in their strongarm policies.
Ford is trying to bring this kinder, gentler version of selling to America, but is getting substantial pushback from its dealers who think it is their God-given right to abuse customers with market adjustments and expensive options in order to purchase popular models. The Saturn experience proved that people like the no-haggle approach, so of course the suits in the C Suite at GM made sure the division was starved for cash until it went out of business.
We applaud Ford for trying once again to use a customer-focused sales strategy, but we know its US dealers would rather see hell freeze over than give up their extortionate tactics. We wish Ford every success with its new marketing approach.
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