COLOGNE, Germany – Ford of Europe said today it plans to increase production by 10 per cent or 8,000 units this year to meet increasing demand for the all-new Ford Kuga sport utility vehicle.
The company, which is increasing production at its Valencia, Spain, plant, said it now expects to reach 100,000 units of annual Kuga production this year for the first time, with 96,000 produced at Valencia and more than 8,000 being built in Elabuga, Russia.
The new Kuga is off to a fast start since becoming widely available in Europe earlier this year. Sales rose 27 per cent year-over-year in February. (March sales figures are not yet available). Sales in the U.S., where the vehicle is sold as the Escape, rose 28 per cent year-over-year in March to deliver an all-time record month; and were up 25 per cent for the first quarter of 2013 compared with 2012.
Customer feedback for the vehicle’s fuel economy, space, drive dynamics and clever technologies like the hands-free tailgate that opens with a kick of the foot has been very positive. It has also achieved a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
“The new Kuga is a smarter SUV that offers a comprehensive array of technologies including the segment-first hands-free tailgate, and debuts Ford’s global Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system in Europe,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe. “This significant production increase is a very promising start to an SUV rollout that is spearheaded by the new Kuga and leverages Ford’s historic leadership in SUVs in North America and other regions to bring to Europe the all-new EcoSport, and later the Ford Edge.”
Ford has said it expects to sell more than one million SUVs in Europe in the next six years with SUVs accounting for 10 per cent of all Fords sold in the region by 2016. The all-new compact EcoSport will launch at the end of 2013, and will later be followed by the next generation Ford Edge, a larger and more premium utility vehicle popular in the U.S. and other markets.
The new Ford Kuga achieved a Euro NCAP overall protection score of 88 per cent, the highest-ever for a mid-sized SUV, and also a Euro NCAP Advanced reward for the Ford SYNC with Emergency Assistance system that calls emergency services in the appropriate local language for the region following an accident.
New Kuga also delivers class-leading fuel economy through significantly improved fuel efficiency from a powertrain line-up that, for the first time, includes EcoBoost engine technology. Petrol engine fuel consumption has been reduced by 25 per cent and diesel engine fuel consumption by 10 per cent.