Ford considering selling new Mustang in Europe; newest version proving popular
RICHARD TRUETT | Automotive News
Photo by AUTOWEEK
LAS VEGAS -- The 2005 Mustang may be the one Ford Motor Co. North American vehicle that could generate some excitement for Ford's struggling European operations.
At least some Europeans are clamoring for the reborn sports car, which bears a close resemblance to the classic 1969-70 Mach I. The very first retail sale of a 2005 Mustang went to a German couple who bought the car in California and shipped it back to Germany, said Hau Thai-Tang, the Mustang's chief engineer.
Mustang team members met with Ford of Europe officials, Thai-Tang said, to see if there was a business case for the new Mustang to be sold there. With the rise of diesel engines, regulatory requirements and other factors, Ford officials decided they likely could not generate and sustain enough sales.
But during a panel discussion ahead of the opening of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show, Thai-Tang said he believes Ford officials should re-examine that decision.
"We just weren't able to convince them that there was a compelling market slot for the Mustang of any sustained volume," said Thai-Tang. "In hindsight, maybe it is something we should look at again." he said.
The new Mustang, with its muscular looks, powerful engines and affordable price, is shaping up to be the most popular version of the long-running pony car in decades. Ford expects to build about 160,000 Mustangs in 2005 and sell them all with a few or no incentives.
The car's performance, price and striking looks have attracted attention overseas.
"There is quite a bit of interest in Europe," said Thai-Tang. "I attended some shows in the United Kingdom. The only analogy I can give is it would be like us going to a Beatles-fest. All of these Brits showed up flying the confederate flag, wearing cowboy boots and had country music blasting. They were showing off their Mustangs."