When Alan Mulally became President & CEO of Ford in 2006, one of the things that puzzled him was why there were different variants of the same model in different parts of the world. For example, there was a European Focus and there was an American one and there were significant engineering differences.
Likewise, the Escape sold in Asia differed from the one sold in North America in ways that cost Ford extra in manufacturing which could have been avoided if a model was engineered so that it was similar and could be made and sold everywhere in the world.
In earlier years, that sort of car was called the ‘world car’ and it made a lot of sense from the manufacturing point of view. For. Mr Mulally, who worked in Boeing before, it made a lot of sense because it saved the company a lot of money through reduced variations and more importantly, through much better economies of scale.
[To know more about the Focus, visit www.ford.net.my]
This led to the ‘One Ford’ strategy which would strictly guide product development, manufacturing, marketing and sales. It wasn’t easy at first because there were ‘turf wars’ between engineering teams before; those in Europe didn’t see things the same way at their colleagues in America and that had led to independent development. Mr. Mulally wanted that to stop and enable efficient use of Ford’s extensive global resources to produce cars that were essentially identical throughout the world, apart from variations made necessary by regulations of certain countries.
The effectiveness of ‘One Ford’ has been validated by the fact that the Focus became the best-selling passenger car in the world in 2012, according to data by R.L. Polk, which specialises in automotive data collection and analysis. According to Polk’s data, 1.02 million units of the Focus were sold worldwide in 2012, ahead of the Toyota Corolla which recorded 872,774 sales. Another Ford, the F-Series pick-up which was once the best-selling vehicle in the world, was in third position with 785,630 units sold (though it should be said that some 80% were sold in North America).
A small Chinese van, the Zhiguang made by GM-Wuling, was fourth ranked with 768,876 units sold, mostly in China. While statistics from the Chinese auto industry are not easy to get, most agree that the Wuling van has been the best-selling vehicle in China for many years and possibly in Asia too.
The Toyota Camry was in fifth position with 729,793 units sold, a large proportion in North America where it has been the best-selling sedan in some years.
The Ford Fiesta beat the Volkswagen Golf, its 723,130 units ahead of the German hatchback’s 699,148 units. 2012 was the final year of the Golf Mark 6 so its appeal would have been lower and it remains to be seen how the widely-praised Mark 7 generation fares in 2013 and coming years.
GM’s Chevrolet Cruze is also a global product and took eighth position in global sales with 661,325 units while the ninth and tenth positions were taken by two Honda models – the Civic (651,159 units) and the CR-V (624,982 units).