As countries around the world see a shift in consumer buying dynamics that favors utilities over traditional sedans or hatchbacks, more small crossovers and SUVs are hitting the market. That movement is particularly notable in South Africa, where the mini SUV segment has grown from just 4 percent of total industry sales five years ago to 10 percent today. Ford crossovers are part of that growth, and have become more popular in the country.
According to stats provided by FoMoCo, the mini SUV segment – known in the United States as the sub-compact crossover or B-crossover space – has grown to account for ten percent of total auto sales thus far in 2020 in South Africa. Even better, indicators point to even further growth beyond 2020.
That’s good news for Ford, as it released two important additions to its crossover line in the South African market this year: the Figo Freestyle as well as an automatic version of the Ford EcoSport Ambiente. FoMoCo believes that both of these models will benefit from the growing demand for utility vehicles.
That trend is not particularly surprising in South Africa, where a substantial portion of the transportation network is comprised of unpaved roads. Ford says that drivers in the country favor vehicles with larger tires and more ground clearance to cope with the rough surfaces.
The same movement can be seen in Europe and North America, where consumers are increasingly shifting away from cars to crossovers, as those models offer greater amounts of cargo space, a higher driving position, and more interior space than their sedan counterparts.
Even so, Ford has not had the best luck with crossover sales in the United States over the last three years. Combined sales of the Ford EcoSport, Ford Escape, Ford Edge, and Ford Explorer fell by one percent from 2017 to 2018 and took a further tumble of nearly 11 percent from 2018 to 2019.
It’s worth noting that the EcoSport was a bright spot in the FoMoCo crossover lineup. Sales for its first year on the U.S. market in 2018 were 54,348 and grew over 19 percent to 64,708 in 2019. The Ford Edge also saw an increase in 2019, though a much more modest one, at 3 percent.
Sales Numbers - Ford Crossovers - 2018 vs. 2017 - USA
|MODEL||YTD 18 / YTD 17||YTD 18||YTD 17|
Part of the drop in Ford crossover deliveries in 2019 was caused by The Blue Oval’s rollout of the all-new, 2020 Explorer – a typical scenario for new models: as production of the outgoing model ends and the plant goes offline to retool for production of the all-new model, inventories dry up, resulting in a temporary sales trough. Then, when the all-new model finally goes into production, assembly rates are typically lower for the first few production cycles. All of these events come together to contribute to a lower sales volume, resulting in the Ford Explorer’s 26 percent drop in 2019.
Sales Numbers - Ford Crossovers - 2019 vs. 2018 - USA
|MODEL||YTD 19 / YTD 18||YTD 19||YTD 18|
Ford will soon expand its crossover lineup with two new models – the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Ford Bronco Sport. Both are scheduled to begin arriving at dealerships before the end of 2020.