By Linda Spencer
The Mustang is Going Global
Good News for Worldwide Enthusiasts and U.S. Specialty-Equipment Manufacturers
SEMA manufacturers know that the Ford Mustang is one of the most customized vehicles in the marketplace. This year marks the pony car’s 50th anniversary, and now it comes with a larger-than-ever attraction to those who wish to develop and market products for the highly accessorized musclecar,“ noted SEMA Vice President of OEM and Product Development Programs Mike Spagnola.
In January 2015, the first shipment of ’15 Ford Mustangs destined for overseas car enthusiasts was loaded onto a ship headed for Asia from the Flat Rock assembly plant in Michigan. The shipment officially implemented the long-awaited decision by Ford to make the iconic sixth-generation car available in more than 140 countries on six continents by the end of 2015. That is good news for global enthusiasts and creates export opportunities for U.S. aftermarket manufacturers of Mustang upgrades.
“The global ’15 Mustang will allow manufacturers to not only develop products for the U.S. market but also products that can be developed for sale across the world with just one set of tooling. In addition, the SEMA Garage Technology Transfer program allows for SEMA members to have access to CAD files that will help them develop global products in a quick, efficient and highly accurate way, increasing sales exponentially,” added Spagnola.
This development follows an impressive international unveiling of the Mustang on four continents and in six cities, with three located outside the United States (Barcelona, Spain; Shanghai, China; and Sydney, Australia). In addition to a press event at the top of the Empire State Building, another Mustang reveal was conducted at the top of the world’s tallest building—the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates.
“The iconic 50-year history of the Ford Mustang is making its way around the world to people who want to experience for themselves what this great vehicle platform is all about,” said Tim Wheeler, vice president of global sales for Roush Performance and SLP. “Roush Performance is excited to be part of this global Mustang growth. International Mustang enthusiasts share many of the same passions and interests of enthusiasts here in the United States. They are initially drawn to the sporty appearance and capabilities of the base Mustang vehicle, and then they want to immediately personalize its appearance to reflect their own styling tastes or configure the suspension and powertrain to improve their performance at the track, or they simply enjoy showing off their Mustangs at a club events.”
Since the Mustang’s introduction 50 years ago, 9.2 million of them have been sold. All but 161,000 of those sales were within the United States. (The Mustang was officially sold in Europe prior to 1980 and in Australia from 2000–2003.)
Global consumers are eager for a piece of Americana epitomized by the iconic musclecar that has been featured in American movies and TV shows. At last count, there were more than 100 Mustang car clubs outside the United States. But even with its limited availability, the Mustang can be found literally around the world at car-club gatherings, where Mustang owners proudly display vehicles purchased through the “gray market.”
Joe Hinrichs, vice president of Ford’s North American manufacturing, was quoted recently by Reuters regarding the Mustang’s global appeal.
“We kept seeing [Mustangs] show up even though we don’t sell them in China, Australia and other places,” he said. “People are figuring out a way to get it into the country even though it’s not sold there, which tells you something.”
David Borla, vice president of sales and marketing for Borla Performance, also took note of the car’s global popularity.
“The world has been captivated by the American automotive aftermarket since before the days of Steve McQueen,” Borla said.
“The Ford Mustang is one of the few platforms that truly capture the elusive spirit of this phenomenon. The opportunity for car enthusiasts around the world to be able to join the fun we’ve been having in the United States for 50 years is something that we at Borla are really excited about.”
Consumers in China—the world’s largest car market—are giddy with excitement. Richard Guo, founder of the Mustang Club of China explained, “The official coming of Mustang will have an important impact on the tuning market in China. Based on my understanding of the Mustang market in China, almost 90% of the Mustang owners will upgrade some parts of the vehicles. So it will boost the tuning business a great deal.”
Consumers in the 25 right-hand-drive countries have another thing to cheer about. Ford has announced that it will factory-equip vehicles with a right-hand configuration for consumers in the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa who previously were required to pay for costly conversion kits.
Also well received is a decision by Ford to offer a 2.3L, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine. “This year, 2015, is poised to be a great year with the release of the Mustang EcoBoost as a global vehicle,” said Rick Trudo, senior advisor and former CEO of Derive Systems.
“We have already felt the surge of excitement from international dealers and from Mustang clubs around the globe as they eagerly await the entrance of the Mustang. We have felt the pull from the international market for our software that safely enhances the Mustang’s performance either right out of the box with a pre-loaded calibration or with custom tuning options.”
Ford is gearing up to add a third shift at its assembly plant if international sales of the Mustang are as strong as expected, and the port of Portland—one of the eight ports handling Ford exports—has already added 100 jobs to accommodate the new sales.
Orders have been accumulating in Australia and Europe, though consumers there won’t receive their shipments until later this year.
While small trucks are widely popular overseas, including the Ford Ranger and the Toyota HiLux, they are not sold in the United States and Canada. However, it’s expected that Ford and other car companies will soon announce plans to introduce additional vehicles—such as the Mustang—as truly international models.
For more information on SEMA’s international programs and resources, visit www.sema.org/international.
Global Car Clubs
The following is a partial list of Mustang car clubs located outside the United States.
The Netherlands: www.fordmustangclub.nl
South Africa: www.mustangwc.co.za
Asia and Oceanic
The Middle East