Ford Introduces New Edge SUV for More Than 100 Markets

June 25 (Bloomberg) -- Joe Hinrichs, president of the Americas at Ford Motor Co., talks about the automaker's redesigned version of its Edge mid-sized SUV and the new aluminum-bodied F-150 truck. Hinrichs speaks Matt Miller with on Bloomberg Television's "In the Loop." (Source: Bloomberg)

Ford Motor Co. (F) unveiled a redesigned version of its Edge mid-sized SUV to be sold in more than 100 markets worldwide, capitalizing on a growing global advantage in sport-utility vehicles.

Built on the same mechanical foundation as Ford’s popular Fusion sedan, the 2015 Edge has a new look and improved technology to increase fuel economy, safety and keep drivers connected, the Dearborn, Michigan, automaker said yesterday. The Edge goes on sale early next year at a price yet to be announced. The current version starts at $28,100.

Slotted between the small Escape SUV and the three-row Explorer, the Edge is part of Ford’s global onslaught in which SUV sales rose 38 percent worldwide last year to 1.2 million. In China, the world’s largest auto market, Ford’s SUV share more than quadrupled last year to 4.5 percent, Ford said. Still, the current Edge, with a design that debuted in 2009, has been losing ground in the U.S., with sales off 7.3 percent through May, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

“Edge is in a segment that’s healthy, but it’s not growing by leaps and bounds like the small SUV segment Escape is in,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with researcher AutoTrader.com. “It catches people in the middle, for whom an Escape is too small and who are not quite ready for an Explorer.”

The Edge is outselling it primary competitor, Nissan Motor Co. (7201)’s Murano, by three to one this year. Yet the 51,368 Edges sold in the U.S. this year represent less than half of the 127,780 Escape deliveries, according to Autodata.

Adaptive Steering

The second-biggest U.S. automaker is looking to revive Edge sales with the new athletic look and technology such as “adaptive steering,” which reduces how much the driver has to turn the steering wheel at slow speeds, making parking and other tight maneuvers easier. The Edge also increases fuel economy by creating an “air curtain” alongside the car to improve aerodynamics at high speeds.

The Edge will be offered with three engine choices, including two turbocharged versions that boost power and fuel economy, the company said yesterday in a statement.

Ford is adding a high-end Titanium trim level, a fully loaded model at the top end of the price spectrum, the company said.

The Edge attracts buyers willing to spend more on a new model, said Jim Farley, Ford’s global marketing chief. Drivers who purchase SUVs, pickups and luxury cars spend the highest percentage of their income on their vehicles, he said, citing Ford research.

“The average customer buying a utility stretches more than other customers,” Farley said yesterday at a briefing in Dearborn. “Edge buyers will spend nearly 40 percent of their average income on their Edge.”

The refreshed SUV goes on sale in Europe in the second half of 2015, Farley said. He declined to say when Ford will begin selling it in China, though said the current version sells very well there.

“We sell every Edge we can ship to China,” Farley said. “If we could make more, we’d sell more in China.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Keith Naughton in Detroit at knaughton3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net Niamh Ring, Stephen West

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