COLOGNE, Germany – Spain, Greece and Italy attract millions of visitors every year to their sun-drenched beaches, but a new Ford Motor Company study on buying trends in Europe shows that residents in some of the region’s hottest countries are among the least likely to purchase a new car with a sunroof.
This is one of several findings from Ford Car Buying Trends 2014, a study of new car buying habits in 22 countries across Europe, highlighting regional trends and national differences that both conform to and confound expectations.
The study shows that white surpassed black last year as the most popular car colour across Europe, according to an analysis of more than 500,000 Ford vehicle purchases in Europe in the past year. The fast growing car colours in recent years have been brown and orange.
“When it comes to car buyers tastes there are a few things that remain consistent over the years and many aspects that change and evolve,” said Roelant de Waard, vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford of Europe. “We study these changes – and some can be surprising – in order to better serve customers across Europe.”
Sunny side up
Among the counterintuitive findings were national preferences for sunroofs. Buyers in Norway, more known for snow than sunshine, were the most likely to choose a new Ford with a sunroof (15 per cent) just ahead of France (11 per cent) and Germany (10 per cent). Drivers in sunny countries meanwhile were among the least likely to specify sunroofs: Spain (5 per cent), Italy (3 per cent) and Greece (2 per cent).
Buyers in chilly Norway were also the most likely to buy a new Ford with automatic air conditioning (80 per cent), ahead of Belgium (77 per cent) and Netherlands (71 per cent). Some of the most likely to buy cars with manual air conditioning were drivers in sunny Turkey (96 per cent) and Spain (92 per cent).
Not surprisingly, Scandinavian drivers also were the most likely to specify heated seats, with 99 per cent of Ford cars bought in Sweden, Norway and Finland featuring the technology. Heated seats were rare in Turkey (1 per cent), Greece (2 per cent), and Spain (3 per cent).
The countries whose buyers are most likely to specify a cigarette lighter as part of a smoking pack: Greece (73 per cent), Spain (53 per cent) and Romania (35 per cent).
Colours and shapes
Across Europe, the most popular colours are white (23 per cent), black (20 per cent) and grey (17 per cent) – with one of the three colours the top choice for every single country except Ireland, Poland and Romania, where silver – the fourth most popular colour in Europe (14 per cent) – is the preferred option.
Turkish buyers are far and away the biggest fans of white – with 55 percent of Ford vehicles purchased in that colour.
British car buyers – perhaps a nod to England’s red-coated soldiers – are the most likely in Europe to buy a red Ford. While Romanian buyers are the most likely to choose a Ford with a blue paint job. Norwegians like brown cars more than any other country (12 per cent).
Wagons offer a more practical option for Mondeo and Focus buyers. These appeal most to drivers in Denmark (86 per cent), the Netherlands (79 per cent), and Germany (78 per cent); with 5-door versions of the same cars most likely to find a home in Greece (95 per cent), Spain (87 per cent) and Britain (83 per cent).
In Europe as a whole, half of car buyers choose 5-door models, 35 per cent prefer wagons and the remainder opt for 4-door cars, which are most popular in Turkey where they make up 84 per cent of sales, followed by Russia (44 per cent) and Romania (42 per cent).
Safe and smart
Ford’s Active Park Assist helps drivers parallel park by using sensors and the steering system to guide a vehicle into a space while the driver simply pushes a button and controls the accelerator and brake pedals.
German drivers have specified the technology on 63 per cent of new cars, and even more (74 per cent) choose Active City Stop – a safety system designed to help drivers avoid low speed collisions. The Swiss (also 63 per cent), Portuguese (53 per cent) and Austrians (50 per cent) also choose Active Park Assist; while drivers from Belgium (36 per cent), and Switzerland (34 per cent) are the next most likely to specify Active City Stop.
Substantial motorway networks could explain why Switzerland (20 per cent), the Netherlands (19 per cent) and Germany (14 per cent) top the list of countries where drivers buy the most technology that pays off on road trips – including Ford’s Blind Spot Information System, Lane Keeping Aid, and Lane Departure Warning. So why does Norway, with among the smallest motorway networks, top the list with 26 per cent?
Drivers in the Netherlands clearly appreciate technologies that help make life easier. Customers there specify the most cars equipped with cruise control (85 per cent), ahead of Finland (78 per cent) and Norway (74 per cent); and, of the Dutch customers who last year bought a Kuga SUV 94 per cent choose the hands-free tailgate, which enables drivers to access the boot space with a gentle kicking motion.
Shifting fuel preferences
An overwhelming 99 per cent of Ford customers bought a new car powered by a petrol or a diesel engine, with less than 1 per cent choosing a model powered by alternative fuels. Petrol is the fuel of choice for 58 per cent of European drivers.
Nowhere are petrol engines more popular than in Russia, where customers choose 97 per cent petrol powered cars, followed by the Czech Republic (80 per cent) and Finland (76 per cent). Diesel is most popular in Turkey (64 per cent), followed by Italy (63 per cent) and Portugal (61 per cent).
Drivers in all European countries still prefer a manual gearbox over an automatic one – 85 percent choose a car with a manual gear stick. In the Netherlands and Ireland that rises to 96 per cent and in Greece and Poland to 95 per cent. Even in Russia, the European market where automatic gearboxes are most popular (48 per cent), there is still a slight preference for manuals.
“The Ford Car Buyers Report 2014 provides a snapshot of the diverse tastes that Ford is striving to satisfy in Europe, whether customers want an orange car with air conditioning and a tow bar in Norway, or a gold car in the Czech Republic – where the colour exceeds average popularity five times over,” de Waard added. “We are fortunate that with for example 11,400 different variations of Fiesta available, we can usually give people exactly what they want.”