GENEVA – Ford of Europe will apply its upscale Vignale trim line to its Edge and Kuga models.
The SUVs will join the Mondeo midsize sedan and station wagon and S-Max minivan in the Vignale family, which will be extended again next year to include the Mondeo hatchback.
Ford expects to benefit further from the growing popularity of high-riding vehicles by selling higher margin Vignale versions of the Edge large SUV and Kuga compact.
SUVs sell on emotional appeal "so I'm confident Vignale will do well there," Ford of Europe head of marketing Gaetano Thorel told Automotive News Europe on the sidelines of the auto show here.
Ford wants models with the Vignale trim line to account for 10 percent of its European sales, which would be more than 100,000 units a year. That percentage could be even higher for the Edge and Kuga, Ford of Europe sales boss Roelant De Waard said. "Typically more expensive cars have higher trim levels,” he said.
Thorel said that about 7.5 percent of Mondeo sales were Vignale variants since the trim line's launch five months ago.
Ford filled its Geneva stand with Vignale models on the first day of the show on Tuesday.
Along with the Edge and Kuga Vignale variants, Ford launched a so-called “concierge” service that will be available at select retailers that offer the Vignale trim line.
The service allows Vignale owners to have their vehicle picked up and returned for a fee when service is needed. Thorel said the perk would appeal to busy customers looking for the “luxury of time."
He said the brand currently has about 300 Vignale dealers and aims to increase that to 500 by early next year.
Ford is hoping Vignale will help it regain market share lost to the German premium brands in the region, particularly among its larger models. The target buyer is a business customer who is allowed to choose his own vehicle, de Waard, told Automotive News Europe last year. He estimated company executives could account for 80 percent to 90 percent of Vignale sales.
The Kuga Vignale was shown as a concept in Geneva. The production version will be based on the face-lifted version of the compact SUV due in the third quarter of this year.