DEARBORN - With the recent implementation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, the timing was perfect to give media from South Korea an in-depth look at Ford and its products.
South Korea is a strategic growth market for the company and Ford Export and Growth. To strengthen its business there, Ford is enhancing its dealer network, increasing service capacity, improving the cost of ownership for Korean customers and expanding its product offerings.
By the end of this year, 90 percent of Ford’s product lineup in South Korea will be all-new or significantly refreshed, and Ford will have new products in the market’s top two segments with Focus and Fusion.
Media spent two days in Dearborn getting a behind-the-scenes look at Ford’s products and technologies and had an opportunity to drive products coming to Korea ahead of their launch this year.
Among the vehicles they took to the high-speed track in were the 2013 Taurus, Taurus SHO and 2013 Mustang, or as Chang Jintaek of Car Media called them a “bunch of sexy cars.”
Ford will launch a refreshed MKS this year and the all-new Lincoln MKZ in early 2013. While in Dearborn, media also met with Lincoln Design Director Max Wolff, as well as Lincoln designers and Korean natives Solomon Song and Soo Kang.
The Korean market, which totals approximately 1.25 million vehicles, is heavily dominated by domestic manufacturers, primarily Hyundai and Kia. Ford was the first import brand to enter the market, establishing Ford Sales and Service Korea in 1995. Its share of the import industry at the end of last year was 4 percent, but media likely wouldn’t be surprised if that number improved significantly. “I am quite sure that the new day will come for Ford, and especially, for its Lincoln brand,” said Lee Seungyon of Motor Magazine.
While in Dearborn, media also toured the Research and Innovation Center, took part in demonstrations about intelligent vehicle technology and inflatable seat belts and met with Director of Global Electrification Nancy Gioia, to learn about Ford’s Power of Choice and electrification strategies.
Moon Byungjoo of Joongang Ilbo called the trip “a good chance for Korean media to eye-witness the change of the Ford.” It was also apparent that word of One Ford has spread. “I can sense that Ford is prepared to deal with new paradigm of market,” said Kim Joonki of Kyunghyang Shinmun, “because now it looks [like] the company is fully absorbed with One Ford strategy and well aligned in global scale to face all the change of the market.”
Following their stay in Dearborn, Korean media also participated in the first media drives of the all-new Escape in San Francisco.
Han Sangjun of Dong-a Ilbo would have preferred more time behind the wheel, but came away feeling that “overall the vehicle was very solid.”
That comment was echoed by Yu Hwangu of Hankook Ilbo, who delcared it “one of the best SUVs in the same class.”
Perhaps the highest praise came from Park Youngmun of Car Life. “During the test drive, Escape exceeded CR-V, the best-selling SUV in Korea.”
The all-new Escape arrives in South Korea in the third quarter.
Joonki Kim of the Kyunghyang Dai
ly checks out Taurus SHO before taking it for a drive.
Korean journalists take a look under the hood of the all-new Mustang.
Sangjun Han of the Dong-A Daily
trys the inflatable seatbelt demonstration at the Product Development Center.