ISRAEL - It’s only been available for a few months, but the new Focus has already helped Ford secure the number two sales position in Israel – a position the company hasn’t held there in more than two years – and its fifth consecutive monthly market share increase.
Focus deliveries more than doubled from September (336) to October (698). In November Focus sales reached 1,364 (226 percent of last year) – an impressive feat for a car in a highly competitive segment of 24 vehicles.
Dan Bielik, Israel sales and service manager, Export and Growth, says Focus is Ford’s most important vehicle in that country. “Focus accounts for about 65 percent of Ford’s business in Israel – more than 10,000 sales a year, so we’re very pleased with how well the new version been received.”
Focus competes in the C-segment – the largest one – which accounts for more than 45 percent of the automotive industry in Israel. To get the word out about the Focus, Delek Motors embarked on a multi-faceted campaign, utilizing print, Internet, billboard and TV and radio broadcast advertisements as well as special events.
But that’s just one of the many versions being offered. In all there are 20 bodystyles/series configurations, all competitively priced, from the five-door hatchback Trend 1.6L manual (105,000 NIS/28,000 USD) to the 5-door 1.6L Titanium Ecoboost (149,900 NIS/39,500 USD).
The manual version was considered something of a gamble for Delek, which had never brought manual-transmission Focus models to Israel. But sales started strong, with 10 percent of the vehicles sold on the first day having manual transmissions. Manual sales represent more than 10 sales/month – all incremental sales to Ford.
Until now, the bulk of Focus sales have been fleet-related. But these days it’s attracting an increasing number of retail customers, who now account for 15 percent to 20 percent of sales.
Focus also generated positive buzz from automotive journalists who participated in launch events organized by Delek Motors, including a 600 kilometer, cross-country ride-and-drive. Journalist Gil Melamed of the newspaper Maariv – who chose to do a head-to-head comparison – declared Focus the winner over the Hyundai i35 and Renault Fluence. Melamed praised the exterior design and the level of comfort, calling it “a car that’s comfortable both for the driver and the passengers even during the ‘bumper ride’ inside the city and on a shabby Israeli highway.”
Focus was also a hit with writer Dubi Ben-Gdalyahu of the financial newspaper Globes. Ben-Gdalyahu actually already owns a Focus – albeit one that’s ten years old.
Think he might be inclined to trade it in for what he calls “the bargain of the year in the family car market”?