FORD is seeking to capture a broader market in the Philippines by looking to North Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao as locations to expand its dealership network.
“It’s really about making sure that we have coverage so it’s easy for our customers to access dealerships around the country,” Kay Hart, managing director for Ford Group Philippines, said during a roundtable meeting in the Manila Times offices.
Ford Philippines currently has 34 dealerships in the country, with several more planned for opening in the next few months.
“We are opening a new dealership in Baguio in October. We are also reopening our dealership in Tacloban which was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November, we are currently building in Ormoc for next year, and we are reopening our “mega-dealership” in Alabang, which can accommodate up to 20 vehicles on display,” Hart said.
“For the next year, Ford is looking to extend our dealership footprint more in the North Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao areas,” she added.
“The majority of the industry is in Manila, so I would say our presence here puts us in line with the industry. But if anything, we probably sell more in the Visayas and Mindanao area because the units we sell like the Ranger and the Everest are in high demand in those areas,” Hart explained.
Steady growth in PH
“We obviously had a great year in the Philippines. We have had phenomenal growth in the last twelve months. We’re at nearly 50 percent [in sales]over where we were at this time last year,” she said.
“We had an all-time record last month where we sold about 800 units just for the month of August for the Ranger. Everest is also doing extremely well, it’s sales have increased 30 percent, she added. “Ford continues to bring in models that we think can do well in the Philippines.”
With a growing trend of small cars in the country, Ford is looking to enter the small car segment with the EcoSport.
“We’re comfortable where we are. The EcoSport is a new example where we brought in an SUV in the market at a much lower price range than what was available before. We continue to look for opportunities for our products,” Hart said.
“We are introducing the Escape early next year, which is a new model for our lineup. It’s about finding the market for new vehicles,” she said.
Hart said that Ford wants to be known as a company that brings great products to the market “Fuel efficiency, great technology, safety, and a company that brings products they want and love,” Hart said.
“The market is unbelievably strong. The latest forecast for the industry I think is 27 up. There is phenomenal growth overall in the industry.
With the forecast from the economy standpoint, we don’t see why we shouldn’t be optimistic about the industry,” Hart said.
Despite the promise of the Philippine market, Ford has no plans at present to restart assembly in manufacturing in the Philippines. “As of now, no,” Hart explained. “Our focus is to expand our dealership footprint and serve the customer market.”
Challenges and Competition
Hart said that despite many new brands and models coming into the country, Ford is confident it can step up to the competition.
“We see competition as an opportunity. That’s the great thing about the automotive business, we live in a dynamic environment which makes it a lot of fun, because we have to constantly change,” she added.
In the automaker’s overall regional strategy Ford Philippines is seen as a key Asean market behind Thailand, according to Hart.
“We have a very important part to play in making sure that we have companies in the region in key markets. Although if you look at the ASEAN industry in terms of population, the industry here [in the Philippines]is very small compared to Thailand,” she said.
Ford is committed to fuel-efficient vehicles and is aggressively marketing its Eco-Boost technology, designed to have 20% better fuel efficiency and 15% reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
“We’re really going to work around smart technology. You see a lot of new technology coming in for vehicles. We’re trying to bring that technology to the mainstream market,” Hart said.
“EcoBoost is our key technology. We introduced it in the Explorer last year and it’s doing really well this year. In a few months we will introduce the new Mustang and it will be the first time that an EcoBoost engine will be used on a Mustang,” she said.
“It’s about no compromise. You don’t compromise on power, you don’t compromise on output, but at the same time you deliver efficient and clean fuel and emission. It’s a global approach,” she added.