After four price increases in 10 months, because of the low value of the pound against the euro, Ford’s UK dealers have been advertising models at far lower prices than the automaker’s official  ‘recommended’ on-the-road price list – causing confusion for customers.

So Ford of Britain has now introduced a little clarity to the situation as it launches updated S-Max and Galaxy seven seat models at lower published prices than the models they replace. The 2010 Mondeo range also has lower published on-the-road prices starting from GBP17,295.

Marketing director Mark Simpson said at a media launch: “The prices for the new models show a reduction of 10 to 12% (GBP2 to GBP2,500) over the outgoing versions. We want to be transparent with our pricing strategies and the new published figures are the real transaction price.”

Simpson said “The lower prices for the new models have been made possible by a reduction in dealer margins and showroom discounts – we are calling this Blue Tag pricing.  With prices and discounts both reduced, residual values for existing owners are unchanged and residual values for the new models are set to improve by up to GBP1,275.”

He added, “Blue Tag pricing should give us evidence that if real-life prices work, watch this space for its use with our smaller car ranges.”

Simpson said that in addition to confusing retail customers Ford’s traditional high recommended list price, high discount, approach had disadvantaged company car drivers because the two most important factors for company car users were the manufacturer’s official published price for the vehicle and its CO2 emissions rating which determine the final P11D ‘benefit-in-kind’ tax the user has to pay – hence the lower official price and the real-life transaction prices are now the same.

Simpson said: “The company car driver will pay less P11D tax.”

Sales of the S-Max in the UK last year totalled 9,373 units, a 5.4% segment share. Traditionally, 50% of S-Max sales have been to fleets, and 94% were diesels, but, with the introduction of the new 202PS two-litre ‘EcoBoost’ turbocharged direct injection petrol engine, sales of petrol models could increase to 10%.

Ford is also introducing a new ‘PowerShift’ double wet -clutch automatic six-speed transmission, standard for petrol EcoBoost models and optionals with two-litre 140/160PS ‘Duratorq’ diesel units. Automatic models account for half this people-carrying line’s UK sales.

The Galaxy in 2009 took a 58.6% share of the large MPV market in the UK with 8,005 registrations. It outsells it nearest rival five to one, 80% go to fleet customers and 97% have diesel engines.

On the subject of hybrid power for these and other new Ford models Simpson said: “Hybrid for us does not make any sense in the UK so far. We can be more CO2-effective selling high numbers of low-CO2 models than a few expensive hybrids.”