June 25--Ford unveiled the 2015 Edge midsize crossover in North America and Europe on Tuesday with plans to offer a longer three-row version for China.
The five-passenger Edge -- with two rows of seating -- was introduced in 2006 for North America. In recent years, Ford started exporting it to South America and China, where it quickly resonated in a market with a growing appetite for crossovers.
This second-generation Edge was designed from the ground up to be a global vehicle. It shares the same foundation, or platform, as the Fusion midsize sedan and the S-Max multi-activity vehicle in Europe.
To enhance Edge's global appeal, Ford added diesel engines for Europe and right-hand-drive models for markets such as the U.K.
All are assembled at the Oakville, Ontario, plant, where Ford spent $700 million in retooling for the new model. The company sells about 120,000 a year of the current Edge in the U.S., said Kim Cape, group marketing manager.
By comparison, Ford sold almost 19,000 Edges in China last year, but that was up 132% from 2012.
"We think China will be the largest utility market in the world by 2018," said Jim Farley, head of global sales and marketing. It already is the world's largest new car market.
"We sell every Edge we can ship to China," Farley said. "If we could make more, we could sell more in China."
Ford has no plans to build the crossover in China, Farley said.
The 2015 Edge will go on sale early next year in North America and by the end of 2015 in South America and Europe.
Ford officials would not say when the new Edge will go on sale in China, but the Detroit Free Press confirmed there will be a three-row version for that market.
The Lincoln MKX, which is Edge's luxury cousin, will be sold with only two rows of seats. The automaker is trying to differentiate Ford and Lincoln vehicles as much as possible, Farley said.
Ford showed the Lincoln MKX concept this year at the Beijing auto show.
The 2015 Edge design does not take a dramatic turn. Ford designers say buyers will respond better to a more mature and technology-laden version of the existing vehicle that looks more modern and muscular. It also uses more premium materials to meet expectations of buyers in Europe and China.
"It is always a challenge to redesign a customer favorite," said Moray Callum, head of design.
Technology includes a standard stop-start system with a turbocharged 2-liter EcoBoost engine that is touted to deliver 3.5% better fuel economy. About two-thirds of sales are expected to be this base engine.
Optional on the higher trim levels is an adaptive steering system that reduces the effort needed to turn the wheel.
J.D. Shanahan, chief program engineer, said the new Edge is stiffer for a better ride and is longer, which allows for more head, leg and cargo room.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas, said the Edge, the larger three-row Explorer and the smaller Escape all have different buyers.
The Edge attracts professionals and more female buyers. It has sold 55,400 through May, flat with a year ago. Chevrolet has sold 102,800 of the slightly smaller Chevrolet Equinox so far this year.
Crossover buyers will spend as much as 40% of their household income on an Edge compared with 30% on a Fusion, Farley said.
Originally, many Edge buyers traded in Explorers, Farley said. Now, most are repeat customers with some trading in vehicles from other brands.
Contact Alisa Priddle: 313-222-5394 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AlisaPriddle.
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Original headline: New Ford Edge designed for more global appeal
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