Optional hands-free tailgate open/close is a segment first in Europe for the new Kuga

Optional hands-free tailgate open/close is a segment first in Europe for the new Kuga

Ford of Britain has revealed the new Kuga to the media, noting that the family car segment was overtaken by sales of SUVs for the first time last month. The company has also revealed its vehicle launch plans for the next 12 months.

UK market Kuga sales have been running at an average of 10,000 units/annum since the launch of the first generation model in 2008. Ford sees around the same sales level for 2013. The new model costs from GBP1,005 less than the old one and has more standard equipment.

The entry level engine is a 150PS 1.6 EcoBoost (direct injection petrol with turbocharging) unit, which is smaller than the base engine in the previous Kuga. A 2.0-litre TDCi turbo diesel is expected to be the main seller. This comes with outputs of 140PS or 163PS. Trim levels are Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X.

Alex Gallagher, Ford of Britain's brand manager for the Kuga, told just-auto he believes the current shift away from D-segment family cars will last. The ongoing success of the Nissan Qashqai and Juke has energised sales of SUVs (Ford calls the Kuga a 'Smart Utility Vehicle'), with the total volume rising to around 250,000 last year from just 100,000 when the first Kuga was launched in 2008.

According to Gallagher, the majority of Kuga sales have been to retail customers, the majority of whom specify around GBP1,200 worth of options on top of what can be a GBP30,000 vehicle in Titanium X trim. He notes that Ford is launching the new car with a bank of 3,000 advance orders and virtually no stock of the outgoing model.

With Kuga deliveries commencing immediately, the next new Ford for the UK will be the Fiesta ST, which goes on sale from March. This three-door sports variant is powered by a 180PS 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine. With a local market sales forecast at 5,000 a year, more than half of European Fiesta ST production is destined for Britain.

The Focus Electric will be launched early in the fourth quarter, but Ford of Britain sees sales of fewer than 100 units for this plug-in five-door hatchback during 2013. Europe's model will be built at Saarlouis in Germany.

The two-ton Transit and Transit Connect will follow in the first quarter of 2014, with the Tourneo Courier also due next year. The latter model will be manufactured at Ford Otosan's Kocaeli plant in Turkey. Ford of Britain's sole vehicle plant, meanwhile, will steadily slow production of the outgoing shape Transit as it winds down ahead of permanent closure this summer.

The Mondeo, originally due for European launch in 2013, will not be replaced until late 2014, as previously announced. Ford believes it can still sell between 20,000 and 25,000 units of the third generation model this year, and will launch what it terms 'SIP' or special pnterest product variants in the coming months. These will keep the car fresh but contrary to some media reports, there will not be a facelift.

Author: Glenn Brooks