SEVENTY-NINE bucks. It might not sound like a lot of money to most of us. Heck, it’s not even a tank of fuel in plenty of cars these days. But that amount represents Ford’s latest attempt to woo and retain new car buyers.
From July 1, Ford adds free annual satellite-navigation updates to its service offer for owners of Ford vehicles fitted with the SYNC2 infotainment system.
If you own an FG X Falcon, SZ II Territory, Everest, Ranger, Ford Kuga, Focus, Mondeo or Mustang, you stand to pocket $79 a year, rather than handing it over to your Ford dealer. And that deal stays in place until 2024 when the system will no longer be updated.
It’s handy considering there are more than 120,000 kilometres of road added each year in Australia, almost 23,000 road name changes and about 2000 roundabout changes, says Ford.
The initiative is being claimed as a global first within Ford, but other brands in Australia including Peugeot, Citroen and DS importer Sime Darby, and Mazda, already offer it. Subaru says most of its models will be updated free from this year.
Sime Darby says offering three updates a year as part of the price saves customers up to $450.
Ford’s $79 charge seemed pretty fair by industry standards when other brands are charging $300 or more for their updates.
Right now there are about 80,000 Fords on Aussie roads using SYNC2 – and growing (SYNC3 is just starting to arrive here, too, but there is no decision on free updates there yet). So if every owner were to take advantage of this offer then it becomes a multi-million dollar investment. And that’s just what Ford wants – every possible customer to take advantage of this offer.
This is another small step along the way in Ford’s change (it likes to say “transformation”) from fleet sale-focused local manufacturer to private customer-loving importer; a process completed on October 7 when its local assembly plants are shut and production of locally developed Falcon and Territory end.
The free sat-nav updates go are on top of other initiatives including free service loan cars, roadside emergency service and capped price servicing.
The idea is to not only sell you a car, but to keep you spending your money in the Ford family with the lure of a high quality sales and service experience, rather than using the local garage. Ford Australia president Graeme Whickman insists it’s working, claiming a 37 per cent increase in service retention since 2012.
The other stat that will be pleasing Whickman is a 16.4 per cent lift in sales year-on-year, which means Ford is on course to increase its annual sales for the first time since 2004.
“We are just getting started and we already have seen significant progress in sales and service satisfaction, which has helped us increase sales and improve service retention… this has become a differentiator for Ford,” Whickman said.
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