In Talks With Pedro Simoes, Middle East Marketing Director, Ford Direct Markets
In your opinion, how successful are Ford’s F-Series pick-up trucks in the region?
Ford trucks and commercial vehicles have and continue to be a significant contributor to our sales success in the region. The F-series is a leader within its segment and has been the best-selling truck in America for 44 consecutive years. In the Middle East region, the F-150 remains a firm favorite amongst our customers and accounted for 50 percent of Ford’s truck and van business in 2020. Fast forward to today, the F-150 has achieved a 6.18% sales growth compared to F-150 sales in May last year.
We’re also listening closely to our truck customers and constantly assessing the trends of the global automotive industry, as a result, the all-new F-150 has an available all-new PowerBoost™ hybrid powertrain with Pro Power Onboard – an integrated power generator and a segment-first in the region.
An increase in sales is a great sign, what would you attribute this to?
The efforts and initiatives undertaken by respective government entities across the region to bring back normality in people’s lives after the pandemic has played a key role in driving sales this year. We’ve seen that with the freedom to move again consumers have a renewed appetite for new products which has fueled the demand for new vehicles in the automotive sector.
The truck segment has always been popular in the Middle East and with the introduction of the all-new F-150, we did anticipate interest among existing and potential new customers.
The all-new Ford F-150 is purpose-built to be the toughest, most productive, and most powerful light-duty full-size pickup. It’s Built Ford Tough and raises the standard for all trucks. It targets best-in-class towing, payload, torque, and horsepower, introduces all-new features to increase customer productivity, and has an available all-new PowerBoost™ hybrid powertrain with Pro Power Onboard – an integrated power generator and a segment-first in the region. All of these cutting-edge features make the all-new F-150 an appealing choice for both existing truck owners and newcomers to our brand.
How important is customer feedback in developing new products or improving existing products at Ford?
One of our major priorities is our customers; our customers are at the heart of everything we do, and we treat them like family. We constantly strive to provide our customers with distinctive world-class products and solutions that meet their everyday needs, helping to build a better world where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams.
For instance, we have always done extensive research on truck customers and put them at the center of our products, after all, they’re the people who drive our vehicles day in and day out. We took this commitment to a new level with the all-new F-150. The 2021 F-150 is the first vehicle to come to market from our new D-Ford team, a cross-functional group of engineers, designers, marketers and others focused on optimizing human-centered design.
This time, we put a stronger and more collaborative emphasis on customer needs, further expanding on how we gain real-world insights with more truck owners (ours and competitors’) than ever, gaining insight into how customers use their trucks, finding pain points, and directly working with customers to find a resolution. Many of the new features on the 2021 F-150 were directly influenced by what we learned from truck customers and how they use their pickups.
What impact did the pandemic have on Ford in the region?
Almost every single industry without exception felt the impact of the pandemic in varying degrees, the auto industry worldwide has seen its own challenges and disruption to production due to a global semiconductor shortage which has affected global automakers as well as other industries.
For existing Ford customers, we carried out service and maintenance work at their homes and businesses where possible, as well as providing pick-up and delivery services, and flexibility with finance and warranty plans. For potential new Ford customers, we offered virtual test drives and vehicle walkarounds, with queries being addressed on a variety of channels.
How do you plan to expand operations in the region?
Months before the pandemic began, we implemented our Distributor Centre of Excellence (DCoE) model focusing on our distributor markets called ‘Direct Markets’, with operations centralized from Dubai. Comprising of more than 80 distributor markets across the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia Pacific Direct Markets, we revamped our business operations making us more agile and adaptable allowing us to adjust to new challenges and uncertain market conditions to assist and care for our stakeholders.
As such, we reassessed targets and incentives, as well as the ways we support our distributors embracing new digital solutions to maintain our service levels to our partners so that they in turn can maintain the best levels of customer service.
We are certain that our commitment and dedication to addressing individual market requirements has created a positive impact that will eventually result in boosting our sales in the future. Together with our distributor partners across Direct Markets, we remain committed to meeting the market’s demand for high-quality trucks and SUVs, continuously innovating our services and products to ensure a seamless experience is delivered to all our customers throughout their journey with Ford.
What models will you be focusing on to increase sales?
The all-new F-150 – the Middle East’s favorite truck - will certainly be a key focus for the Ford brand in 2021 along with the eagerly anticipated new Ford Bronco which is due to arrive in the region later in the year. This will be the first time the Bronco is officially on sale in the Middle East and we have seen a huge amount of excitement building for its arrival.
For Lincoln, the new Nautilus will be arriving very soon this summer which will showcase the brand’s signature design, elevated technology, and interior design that brings a sense of calm and sanctuary to the midsize luxury utility segment. We will share more details in due course.
Also, looking forward to next year, 2022 will see some interesting and exciting developments with new product updates coming to markets across the region – we look forward to sharing these with you when the time comes!
Do you see trucks coming with self-driving technology in the future?
Our truck lineup comes with a suite of driver-assist technologies for customers which deliver a degree of autonomy. The all-new F-150 offers the latest driver-assist features as part of Ford Co-Pilot360™ 2.0 including Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Detection to help avoid a possible collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian, rearview camera with dynamic hitch assist, auto high-beam headlamps, and auto on/off headlamps.
The F-150 also adds 10 new driver-assist features that include Intersection Assist, which detects oncoming traffic while the driver is attempting a left turn. If there is a risk of a collision with an oncoming vehicle, F-150 will apply the brakes to mitigate or avoid it. F-150 is the only light-duty full-size pickup with available Active Park Assist 2.0, which handles all steering, shifting, braking, and accelerator controls during a parallel or perpendicular parking maneuver while the driver holds down a button.
What is your take on electric pick-up trucks in the region?
Ford Motor Company is committed to leading the electrification revolution as evidenced by our recent global reveals and launches of the Mach-E all-electric SUV and the F-150 Lightning. We continue to work with our global team of experts to explore the potential of electric vehicles in our region in the future. It is too early to provide an evaluation at this stage. With local infrastructures growing and gaining more ground, bringing our innovative electric vehicles to the region is something we will continue exploring in the coming years.