Ford commercial vehicles are set to capture the German market in future. The F-Max will play a key role in this, as will the Stegmaier Group.
Jan Plieninger, one of the shareholders and Managing Director of F-Trucks Deutschland, clearly states where they wish to end up: “We will be the strong new brand in the largest market for commercial vehicles in Europe” – that is the mission for the market launch of the new Ford trucks in Germany. In the first phase, the Ford F-Max, which has already been launched and is enjoying success in other European markets, is set to pave the way. In the next one to two years, the chassis and other components will follow once they have been upgraded to the state of the art.
Marc Stegmaier, who heads up F-Trucks alongside Alex Kröper and Jan Plieninger, contrasts the new F-Max with the historic Ford Transconti when it was launched in Germany. The Transconti was a pure component truck: Cummins engine, Fuller gearbox, Rockwell axles, Renault cab, Ford logo. Only limited numbers of it were built, fewer than 9,000 units. However, the technology was not adapted to European needs. This was coupled with poor service expertise. The positive: the Transconti was a real driver’s vehicle. After several decades, the priorities are now obvious for the relaunch in Germany, as Stegmaier makes clear.
The most important aspect is to establish a comprehensive service and dealer network. To this end, F-Trucks’ trainer is training its partners and also supporting them in “after-sales”. The company ought to have the expertise for this. Among other things, the Stegmaier Group has been operating for over 90 years with a Europe-wide service network for MAN trucks. The company plans to have brought on board 30 bases across Germany by the end of 2021. This total is expected to have reached 60 by the end of 2022. “Naturally this involves a lot of work,” explains Stegmaier. “We need to set up spare parts stores, conduct training, sort it all ourselves.” Nonetheless, the aim is to have 100 service centers by 2025 and over 25 dealers throughout Germany for fast availability and rapid help.
Özenc Kirandi, Managing Director of Ford Trucks for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, also takes up how Ford Trucks plans to gain a foothold in the German market together with the family-run Stegmaier Group. The strategy is to guarantee a strong after-sales presence with a dense network of service partners and excellent availability of spare parts to minimize truck downtime. At the same time, it is now a matter of raising awareness of the brand. The tools for this also include roadshows to take the vehicle directly to the customer. One advantage, according to Kirandi, is that the Ford brand is already known in the commercial vehicle world, and its light commercial vehicles, the Transit and others, already have many friends in Europe.
Ford anticipates a market volume of 66,000 heavy trucks per year in Germany, with 60 percent of them accounted for by semi-trailer tractors. Therefore, the F-Max was the logical choice for the truck to pave the way in Europe and now also here. Ford is not just focusing on an application, but specifically on a single configuration: 4x2, 500 hp, a choice of color. There are also two specification packages. This is intended to simplify the processes during the start-up period, especially in terms of service and spare parts. At the same time, a strategy like this also helps to keep the price low, which it is hoped will put the vehicle in a good procurement position coupled with its promised low operating costs (attractive parts prices, 150,000-kilometer service intervals, special workshop packages).
F-Trucks also wishes to offer other services in addition to service and sales, including flexible financing options, rental, or even ‘Try and Buy’: first the customer tests the truck in real day-to-day driving conditions, and then they can keep hold of it directly after the test period if they wish. F-Trucks also wants to get involved in the used vehicle market, among other things, through trade-ins or repurchase agreements. The company also sees potential on the equipment side. Customers can therefore customize their Ford to their requirements, or even retrofit additional assistance systems.
In spite of the well-known global supply problems currently afflicting different manufacturers, Ford is confident when it comes to delivery times: “We have a long order list. We also face the current semiconductor problem. Delivery of the trucks already sold will probably be longer than twelve weeks. But we want to deliver the trucks to the customer as quickly as possible. We are already selling trucks for March and April, but we wish to prioritize the German market at the launch date and preferably ensure the fastest possible delivery there.”