New Ford car aims to break Japanese dominance

By Billy Chamberlin, The China Post

Ford Lio Ho Motor Company launched its all new Mondeo Metrostar yesterday, squarely aiming at a market currently dominated by Japanese models. As a replacement to Ford’s previous “world car,” the Mondeo, the new Mondeo Metrostar is completely redesigned from the tires up, casting away the previous platform. Using Ford’s design and engineering facilities in Germany, the company said the Metrostar is able to compete head-to-head with more upscale German brands, at an affordable price. But in Taiwan, the Metrostar will not be rivaling BWM of Mercedes-Benz, but the Toyota Premio, Nissan Cefiro and Honda Accord, tough competition in a crowded market.

For its part, Ford Lio Ho has invested US$70 million to refresh the company’s product line and John Parker, general manager of Ford Lio Ho, said the Metrostar is “pivotal to (Ford’s) strategy.” With a base price of around NT$668,000, the Metrostar undercuts all three Japanese models and fully-equipped models top out at around NT$808,000. With cues from Ford’s “New Edge”styling, already seen in models such as the Cougar, Puma and Focus, the Metrostar has been refined for the Taiwan market. “We have localized it for the Taiwan consumer,” said Parker. Noting that while German drivers desire high performance and superb handling, Parker explained that Taiwan drivers want these attributes balanced with smooth riding and luxury. Sporty styling cues found in German variations have been replaced with more “luxurious” appointments from the front grill to the tail lights. The Metrostar has already been introduced into European markets under the Mondeo name, as well as Japan. Taiwan is the third market to unveil the Mondeo Metrostar owing to the island’s strategic importance to Ford, explained Parker. “Despite the increased competition, Ford is committed to the Taiwan market,” he said. “We have been here 28 years and [Taiwan] is one of the strongest markets in Asia-Pacific.”