People are different, our tastes even more so — and this includes cars. This diversity is exactly where Ford sees its opportunity.
Cars are a major part of our daily lives, and it's a good thing that the world is full of different ones. Some are small and cheap, others big and expensive. And then there are those that are neither big nor small, neither cheap nor (too) expensive, and are meant for those of us who want a good car, but don't want to stand out.
That is the target audience for Ford. As early as 1948, something similar was offered to the public by Alfredo Vignale but, back then, customers wanted cars that were special and flashy. That was the year that the 35-year-old Vignale founded his company, Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignale, and began manufacturing unique automobile bodywork for Fiat cars and, later, for Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari and Maserati. In 1969, when the era of bodywork manufacturers, as they were called, ended, Alfredo sold his company to the then-famous automobile company, De Tomaso. The company dealt mostly with prototype and race car manufacture, as well as Formula 1 production. At the same time, they produced a few of their own sports cars, under the De Tomaso name. De Tomaso also included the Carrozzeria Ghia company which was, together with Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignale, bought by Ford in 1973. De Tomaso was quickly sold on to Maserati. Ford was mostly after the Ghia brand, which was famous in Europe at the time. For years afterward, the best-equipped Ford cars carried the name Ghia, whereas the Vignale was largely forgotten.
1993 saw a quick revival of the name, after Aston Martin (which Ford owns) showed the Langoda Vignale concept at the Geneva Motor Show. In September 2013, Ford decided to revive Vignale and offer more; this also signals and end of Ghia's use with Ford. Vignale will mean something more than just a equipment level name, Ford says it will be a brand that will give buyers the feeling of belonging to the brand. Ford does not try to hide the fact that their role model was Apple. Therefore they will open first 200, and then, by the end of next year, another 500 dealerships called FordStores, inspired by Apple stores. The dealerships will offer the best Ford cars with the best equipment, and there will also be a special Vignale Lounge, for owners and buyers of Vignale models. Vignale owners will be given extra privileges and benefits, for example 24-hour concierge service, free carwashes and a special service protocol - collection and delivery of the car when it needs servicing.
The first in line of Vignale cars is the new Mondeo. It is manufactured in a Ford factory in Valencia, Spain, where specially-qualified workers manually recheck every car and perform an additional 100 tests (compared to production of normal Ford cars) on each one, before it leaves the factory. Mondeo Vignale also features new technology. Ford Active Noise Cancellation makes this the first Ford with the series system that, together with passive measurements, special glass and elaborate acoustic insulation, reduces road noise in the cabin, and makes the car almost inaudible, which is also the case with the hybrid version.
The complete hybrid system is the same as in the regular hybrid Ford Mondeo. The third generation hybrid system allows electric power drive only under ideal conditions, and up to 135 km/h. The 2.0 liter petrol engine (143 horsepower) and 2 electric engines (48 horsepower) ensure 187 hp of system power. When the petrol engine functions normally, the electric engines are also at work; one assists the drive, while the other focuses on the regeneration of energy, and is responsible for the lithium-ion 1.4 kWh battery recharge. The batteries can be found under the rear bench seat and thus recharge faster than you might expect with a hybrid. The continuously variable transmission is responsible for shifting, so the drive is a lively and quiet experience, accompanied by low consumption and sufficient suspension comfort in an interior that is vastly more exclusive than that of the regular Mondeo: special leather for the seats, and rich equipment that ensures safety, as well as comfort; a Sync2 multimedia system, Ford Active Noise Cancellation and active LED headlamps that light up the curves. Naturally, you can't miss a Vignale. A prominent mask, chrome grills, aluminium clad double exhaust pipe and special rims distinguish Vignale from the less prestigious Ford models, without making it too flashy.
It will thus satisfy buyers who want a distinctive and well-equipped car, yet do not want to spend too much money. Even more important is the fact that only real connoisseurs will recognize the excellence of a Vignale, making its admirers feel part of an exclusive club of car lovers. And if Alfredo saw it? I bet he would be satisfied.