Ford Trucks grows its product and GCC network

Two years since Ford Trucks established a direct presence in the Gulf, director for international markets Emrah Duman discusses the geographical expansion of the brand’s sales and service network over the last 12 months

Emrah Duman, international markets, Ford Trucks.
Emrah Duman, international markets, Ford Trucks.

A little over two years into its launch of on-the-ground operations in the Gulf region, Ford Trucks continues to press forward at an impressive pace, with the delivery of no less than three dedicated sales and service features in the GCC within the space of the last year.

Emrah Duman, director for international markets at Ford Trucks, explains: “Over the course of this year we have developed our representation in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. The only market that is left in the GCC region is Kuwait, and we will be starting, most probably, with our dealer by the beginning of next year — so the overall representation in the region is complete.”

Specifically, in the last 12 months, Ford has delivered facilities in Manama, Bahrain, Muscat, Oman, and Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as a temporary facility in Doha, Qatar, to be replaced by a permanent one in 2017.

Duman continues: “The next step is to focus on improving our presence in those countries. For instance, let’s take Saudi, we are only in Riyadh with dedicated facilities — but we will be improving our presence with facilities in Dammam and Jeddah, because in the truck business, you need to be offering aftersales service to the customer immediately.

“We will be finished in about two years’ time — by which point we will have a great network to support our 2020 target for the region, which is to obtain a 10% market share.”

The second development for Ford Trucks, as revealed at The Big 5 Exhibition in Dubai, is the launch of the 2017 series of Ford Trucks — including, possible most interestingly for the region, a new range of construction trucks with greater engine and braking power.

Equipped with Ford’s latest Euro III Ecotorq engines, the 2017 range delivers more torque and better fuel economy, and has engine brake and retarder options that provide 400kW and 600kW of braking force, respectively, or a combined braking output of 1,000kW.

Duman, notes: “The news is the engine size. All of our customers around the world, not just in Middle East, were asking for bigger engine sizes. Now we have equipped our 6x4 and 8x4 construction trucks, which had nine-litre engines previously, with 12.7-litre engines.

This has delivered a 23% improvement in power and perhaps most importantly, a 55% improvement in torque — and this will make a huge difference to our customers. We have also introduced automatic transmissions, with several driving modes: off-road, economy and a rocking mode for escaping tricky potholes.

Duman comments: “The previous models were with manual transmission, but these are automatic following requests from several customers. There is a trend towards automatic transmission in the Middle East.”

He continues: “We came to the region five years ago to analyse the market, develop our prototypes and test them in the market — so there were three years of preparation before we launched in the region two year ago.

“During that preparation period, all of the customers were demanding manual transmission, but now what we see is the majority, especially in tractors are demanding automatic transmission — and construction customers will also start asking for automatic transmissions as well, because it eliminates the risk of the drivers making a mistake when they’re changing gears that might damage the manual transmission or consume more fuel.”

In addition to the engine specifications, the trucks have a 22% sharper steering angle, thanks to a completely new steering design and overhauled front steering system.

Commenting on the overall business climate, Duman adds: ““It’s been a tough year this last year. The market, according to our estimates, is 35% smaller than the year before, and we only expect a recovery to the same levels as 2015 by 2020, if a little earlier.”

However, Ford’s market share has grown, as has its number of customers, and gained some important fleet operators as customers.

But Duman is far from complacent: “We are quite impatient as a company, and when you are a latecomer you have to work 25 hours a day, eight days a week to compensate for the difference between you and the competition who have been in the market for years.”

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