Ford chief Alan Mulally has confirmed that the European-designed Vertrek SUV concept, a star of the recent Detroit show, will give the firm “a great opportunity” to unify its two C-segment SUVs, the Kuga and Escape, when the next-generation soft-roader hits the market in mid to late 2012.
The new Kuga will adopt the look of the Vertrek, although it will lose the roof glass, add a centre pillar and have simpler grille and sill designs.
The Escape, Ford’s US model, has outmoded styling that it still shares with Mazda’s Tribute, the result of a defunct relationship. The Kuga, although selling well, has been criticised for having too little rear passenger and luggage room. The Vertrek’s wheelbase is about four inches longer than the Escape’s, and the Vertrek is more space-efficient than the Kuga.
The model unification is the latest in Mulally’s ‘One Ford’ plan to rejuvenate the company by concentrating resources and management time entirely on the Blue Oval. In 2010 Ford traded profitably, beat Toyota to reclaim its position as second-biggest US manufacturer (after GM) and paid off $13 billion (£8.2bn) of debt.