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Posts Tagged ‘Citroen Berlingo’

Sleeper of the Year – Ford Transit Connect?

With some bold moves, TC could be bigger than Ford envisions.

by on Jun.08, 2010

Automotive press have largely ignored, or been ignorant of, this relatively little-on-the-outside, big-on-the-inside vehicle’s potential.

Since last winter, when the imported Ford Transit Connect small delivery van was proclaimed as the 2010 North American Truck of the Year, little has been heard about it as a mainstream product.

Yes, Ford announced Natural Gas and Electric versions of the TC, which got attention as part of the “Green movement.” Announcements of a TC taxicab version have, unfortunately, generated ho-hum, who cares media responses.

The American world and its automotive press have largely ignored, or been ignorant of, this relatively little-on-the-outside, big-on-the-inside vehicle’s potential to sweep the country as tomorrow’s commercial vehicle. In plain language, the TC is a city delivery van, a replacement for yesteryear’s panel delivery trucks and, eventually, today’s big box vans like the Ford Econoline and Chevy Express.

Ford and its dealers will reap a bonanza with the TC. None of the competition, domestic or import, appears to have anything like it up their sleeves for the near future, although Chrysler through its Fiat product pipeline could present a formidable challenge with the Fiat Fiorino Qubo. (See First Look: Renault Kangoo TomTom) Whether Fiat can out market Ford given its U.S. history is debatable, and for once Jeep, Dodge and/or Chrysler badges could help.

Furthermore, Ford marketing folks don’t think the TC will cut into sales anytime soon of the Ford Econoline E-150 vans, long the king of such vehicles on North American roads. E-series U.S. van sales so far this year (through May) totaled 32,376 plus another 13,140 E-series Club Wagons, compared to a combined total of Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana sales of 27,114.  Many E-series, mostly the higher capacity E-250 and E-350 versions, power airport shuttle buses and motor homes. Ford’s E-series have long been a big money-maker, though mostly ignored by the motor media.


First Look: Renault Kangoo TomTom

A car and truck like this could save Chrysler or smart.

by on Jan.15, 2010

These mini-minivans have huge sales potential as the next "small" thing in my view. And makers are once again missing an opportunity.

Renault has just introduced a new TomTom Edition in Europe of its wildly popular Kangoo. It is the fifth special edition of the 2010 Kangoo range, which includes existing Access, Authentique, Expression and Privilège versions.

In France, Kangoo is the best-selling vehicle in its class in both the private car and light commercial segments.

Like the original Chrysler minivan, or the original four-door Jeep Cherokee, (both of which went unanswered for years as Chrysler printed money from their sales) these mini-minivans have huge sales potential as the next small thing in my view. And makers are once again missing an opportunity.

Here, there is an opportunity with far great sales potential for Chrysler than the cute — but hopelessly small for Americans – Fiat 500 model.

Here's a minivan with far greater sales potential for Chrysler than a cute -- but hopelessly small for Americans – Fiat 500.

The Citroen Berlingo – shut out of the U.S. market — and the Fiat Fiorino, which is derived from it, are other variants of the type.

Here, there is an opportunity with far greater sales potential for Chrysler than the cute — but hopelessly small for Americans – Fiat 500 model that is coming next year.

How about a Fiorino derived camper version from the Jeep brand, as well as Chrysler luxury models and Dodge truck derivatives?

If Chrysler is to be a comeback company, it needs to gamble on such new things in the U.S. market. New decals,  which debuted on Jeep Wrangler models at the NAIAS, will only go so far.

A Kangoo could also easily be successful here as a Smart or Mercedes-Benz model – one personal, the other commercial. During 2008, Smart sold 24,622 copies of its pint-sized fortwo, a figure that plunged 38% in 2009. (more…)

Revised Ford C-Max Debuts at Frankfurt

Styling reversal of previous J Mays offerings is now complete.

by on Sep.04, 2009


No real surprise here – good or bad – since C-Max takes its design cues from the iosis MAX.

The original Ford European Turnaround Plan earlier in the decade involved building on the success of the Focus as the over due replacement for an aging Escort. Focus was and is a global success.

Encouraged that Ford could finally stop its billion dollar losses and declining market share in Europe, the company set out to address other growing segments it had also missed. It needed to update its aging powertrain offerings as well.

Four gaping holes in the line were causing the sales slide.

Ford had completely ignored the Renault Megane Scenic in 1996 and the trend it set for C-class minivans (multi-activity vehicles in marketing jargon) that pointed the way for a whole generation of competitive products. Slow reacting, Ford took almost an entire product cycle to come up with the C-Max response.

It also ignored the European switch to high pressure common-rail diesel engines going on at the same time, since it did not want to spend the money for tooling, and it’s alleged, American management after Ford 200o despised diesels. Ford Motor Company, emphasis Motor, eventually was, eventually, forced to go outside for engineering expertise.

Then it missed the small Renault Kangoo and Citroen Berlingo panel vans that were trendy with kids and successful with small merchants, This gaff was finally addressed with the Transit Connect a decade later, only now going on sale in the U.S.

In addition, it let the Fiesta B-car languish just as the European market moved down a segment in taste and purse, as other makers thrived with more derivatives than Starbucks has coffee flavors.

All these problems have since been addressed, more or less successfully, and freshened second generations of the comeback lineup are out or about to appear. Still, the decade had a devastating effect on company reputation and market share — once 35% in the United Kingdom. Across Europe,  share is just under 10%, the highest it has been in memory.

This brings us back to the C-Max. Though late and initially without a competitive diesel engine, the C-Max plugged one hole. Along with the second generation Focus and the revised Fiesta from Mazda, Ford finally stopped losing market share. Now comes a  Gen Two C-Max using the same bolder, more rounded, more expressive styling that has appeared recently, which is a complete reversal of the J Mays plain “Braun Coffee maker” design of the first generation of European turn around products.