By on May 4, 2016

2016 Ford Mustang GT

The Ford Mustang is currently the best-selling sports car in Germany and in many other European countries. Sales are so strong that allotments for official importers are usually sold out for the rest of the year and customers are flocking to gray importers, who offer cars at higher prices and without factory warranty.

What made Europeans go crazy for a pony car all of a sudden? Is something changing in European tastes, or is the new Mustang just that good? And why can’t other American cars make it in Europe?

Last month, Germany saw 780 Mustangs registrations. That’s enough to beat everything in the Sportwagen category, including bestsellers like the Audi TT, Mercedes-Benz SLC or any of the sporty Porsches. In my home country, Czech Republic, 44 were registered, beating luxury coupes like the Audi A5 and BMW 4-series, which are not considered “sportscars” in Germany.

That’s an astonishing achievement for an American car in Europe. Since the success of Chrysler’s minivans, no American car (European Fords are just that — European) managed to make itself truly relevant in any market segment. So, let’s look at the factors that made such a thing possible.

The most obvious reason why the Mustang is so hugely popular in Germany is, of course, the pricing. However outrageous it may seem to American eyes, the $48,700 base price for the Mustang GT is a true bargain, as is $43,000 for the four-cylinder Ecoboost model.

To understand why, one must realize that advertised prices in Europe are final. This includes the Value Added Tax, which usually amounts to 20-22 percent, and of course, no further destination charges are allowed. Subtracting the tax (which is, in fact, deductible for VAT-payers who pay the tax on their final product and can deduct it from any business expenses) moves that car much closer to its American pricing. The rest of the difference comes to the fact that in Europe, the base Mustang comes in Premium trim with the Performance Package.

This pits the Mustang against similar competitors it faces in the US. The Ecoboost goes head-to-head with the new crop of “super hatches” like Golf R or Civic Type R, and the GT is competing against much slower cars (like the BMW 440i) or much more expensive ones, like the BMW M4. Maybe even more important, it’s still within the price range of a typical large sedan. A Volkswagen Passat or Ford Mondeo, or even a Škoda Superb, can easily surpass an Ecoboost in price, and their most expensive versions can be pricier than the GT Convertible.

2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-007

But the fact that the Mustang is cheap would not be enough for it to rake in such massive sales. It has been cheap for quite some time, and gray market cars are readily available in most EU countries. For some buyers, though, the fact that the Mustang is now sold through official Ford dealerships is of a great importance. Some don’t want to deal with a small company that’s not able to offer the warranty and service of an official dealer, others just don’t trust anything “unofficial”.

The fact that the Mustang is officially available for the first time in almost 50 years (and in many countries, like ours, for the first time ever) could be the reason why people who always wanted a Mustang now flock to get one.

Supporting this theory is the fact that at this moment, the Mustang’s European sales consist mostly of V8 cars, while the supposedly Euro-friendly four-cylinder model represents a small minority in most markets. It seems that the really important part of “Euro-friendliness” is not about offering a small engine, but the fact that the Mustang now has a proper, well-tuned suspension and an interior that can stand on its own when displayed next to large European Fords in the showroom. No Mustang since 1973 was able to do that, which is one of the main reasons why the last four generations weren’t available in Europe.

If there are any other reasons for Mustang’s long absence on our market, it’s certainly not the lack of European drivers’ interest in affordable, fast coupes with a big engine. When the Mustang vacated the European market after getting too fat and thirsty for continental tastes and wallets, Europeans just made their own Mustang.

It was called the Ford Capri, and other than being smaller, in line with other European cars of the time, and replacing the Mustang’s I6 and V8 engines with (slightly) less thirsty I4s and V6s, it was just like the Mustang, only with a more primitive suspension. Really — the Capri, which sold almost 2 million copies (at one time, one in four Fords sold in Europe were Capris) had live rear axle on leaf springs until production ended in 1987.

When the Capri went out of production, followed a year later by its biggest rival, the Opel Manta, dark ages came for brawny rear-wheel drive coupes in Europe. With the lack of mainstream RWD platforms to build on (the Capri was based on the old Escort, the Manta on first generation Ascona), the manufacturers tried to make it work with FWD ones. Ford imported the futuristic but kind of bland Probe, followed by the totally boring “Europeized” Cougar. Opel did better with the Vectra-based Calibra, and Fiat ruled the segment for some time with its striking, muscular, Bangle-designed Coupe, powered by a glorious 2.0-liter five-cylinder turbo.

2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-004

With mainstream coupes partly dying out and/or moving to uninspiring FWD platforms, the market for fast, stylish coupes fell into the hands of German premium brands — the 3-series coupe and Mercedes CLK still offered some style and, for the Bimmer at least, a sporty character.

Of course, pony cars were still present — but mostly through gray imports. Only occasionally were they available from official dealers, like the Camaro and Firebird in Germany during late 1990s. While the demand was undoubtedly there, the terrible quality of their interiors and ancient live rear axle suspensions kept most European customers away. Even so, the pony cars were always among the most successful cars in the gray market. Mustangs of the previous retro-styled generation sold better than some officially available cars.

There should be no surprise that when the Mustang came to European shores with an official warranty, availability from regular Ford showrooms and a modern suspension (which makes it drive more like a cheaper Jaguar than a thuggish American brute), not to mention an interior that is at least on-par with the Mondeo, the customers went nuts.

For now, it’s probably mostly fanboys who are now ordering the V8 pony cars of their dreams, but I expect the share of Ecoboost cars to rise in the coming years, as people who didn’t specifically lust after a Mustang (but wanted a downmarket/faster alternative to a BMW 4-series) come into the picture. There’s also those who just want a cool-looking coupe to replace their Mondeo wagon after their kids finally leave the nest.

In a way, the Ecoboost Mustang is a replacement for the Capri. When the European pony car was on the market, European Fords were orders of magnitude smaller than U.S. models — the large, luxurious Granada was about the size of a Maverick, and the Cortina (the typical family car of the time) was hardly any bigger than a Pinto. That necessitated a smaller pony car for Europe. Now, Europe’s large Ford is identical to America’s midsize Fusion, and the Mustang suddenly stopped looking out-of-place with its size.

What it is that most American automakers don’t get and what they can learn from this example? European customers are not interested only in small, sophisticated four-cylinder cars. They want big, cool American cars they know from the movies. They just don’t want them to look completely terrible on the inside, and they won’t live with the rear axle on a sports car.

The American cars that sell the best in Europe are those that look most American. The biggest hit for Chrysler? The 300C (and gray import Challengers aren’t doing so bad, either). The most popular Cadillac? Of course, the Escalade. But a Lancia-badged Chrysler 300C? Nah, they won’t fall for that. A four-cylinder Cadillac ATS or even CTS? Dude, where’s my V6?

The Mustang is like a hamburger. It’s quintessentially American, and while you won’t see us Europeans ditching our pasta or Wienerschnitzel for it, we still like to indulge from time to time. A part of us will always like a nice pony car, as much as we like those burgers.

[Image: 2015 Ford Mustang, © 2015 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

127 Comments on “Why the Mustang Sells So Well in Europe, and What US Automakers Don’t Get...”


  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Look…I get it.
    I feel their pain.
    The damn car lights my emotions up as well.
    Every time I see one in any convertible color or power…it is just an emotional gene that the Mustang touches.
    The last one didn’t do what this one is doing for me.

    But I see how the Euro like that rear seat. The small rear seat seems to be in proportion with their side street sizes. Going down the city side streets makes you wonder how anything gets through except a horse.

    But they seem to find room for a few cafe seats.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “To understand why, one must realize that advertised prices in Europe are final.”

    This is a very good point; the advertised price in the US (MSRP) doesn’t include things like sales tax. Depending on the state you live in (no federal sales tax in the US,) sales tax can add thousands to the final sale price of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Just buy a small property and a driver license in Delaware, and you will be paying no sales tax.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        I wish. In the First State, vehicles are not charged a ‘sales tax’, they are charged a 3.75% document fee that amounts to the same thing.

        • 0 avatar
          JasonH

          4.25% now.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Still cheap. Maine has a relatively low sales tax of 5.5%, but then you pay another 2.4% first year on MSRP + fees to register the thing. And no wrapping that into the loan, you pay City Hall, not the dealer. And it doesn’t get much cheaper for the first 3 years.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice piece, Vojta. You seem to dispel the myth of the I4 Ecoboost as an “export” intended model.

    I’m actually going to be in Prague in early June if you have an suggestions of “must do” activities (aside from flying in the MiG 15 I found which is too expensive).

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      if you are a single man, go to the Goldfinger

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      Shameless car-guy-in-Prague-get-excited-diversion:
      http://hooniverse.com/2014/05/21/reader-submission-various-cars-and-trucks-of-prague/

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thanks! I might have to check out that red cab as well when there.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          28, your mission becomes clear: photograph as many interesting vehicles you see. Bonus points (one FREE internet cookie!) for a Lada Niva. Love those things. Drove one in Canada once, it certainly has a spot in my fantasy collection. My feet are too big for the closely spaced pedals, though, lol. Shoes off driving FTW!

          Dont bother with the exotics. Get the mainstream stuff, the utilitarian work vehicles, average family cars, old stuff.

          Enjoy your trip! (I realize you may not be leaving right away, but figured Id get it out there now.)

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Nivas aren’t that rare there. Tatras though, THAT is the one to be on the lookout for. I think I only saw one, maybe two. I have a big soft spot for rear-engine Skodas too. I drove a Niva around quite a bit when I lived in Hungary. Fun, in a super crude way. I owned a Trabant.

            Sadly Eastern Europe is not the automotive alternate reality it was 20+ years ago. Looks pretty much like Western Europe, just everything is dirtier and lower spec. Seen one VW Polo, seen them all.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks man, I don’t leave until the 29th. I will shoot what I can when I’m there.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            @Krhodes1,

            Yeah, I get that, and Itotally agree on the Tatra. I have loved those things since reading an article about their big rear-engined sedan (1996 IIRC). Love em.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Who says there hasn’t always been very strong demand? The very strong ‘grey market’, as grey markets go, for Mustangs should say it all.

    Where US cars fail in Europe is when they’re redundant to what they already have a lot, or too much of.

    The Corvette? I never saw the appeal in the 1st place anywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Last summer at EAA Oshkosh, I struck up a conversation with a German fellow who worked for Airbus (he was there as part of the team that was displaying the new A350). He was a Mustang fanatic. He had owned three of them and was going to visit a local dealer to drive the new 2015, which he planned to buy once he got back to Germany. In some parts of Europe, Mustangs have always been aspirational cars. I remember from my childhood summers in Sweden in the ’60s how prized the first-gen models were with people paying a lot of money to own them.

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      The Flex is plentiful on mobile.de. Just sayin’, as I’ve done for years, that this is a cooler van, a Volvo 740 on steroids. It would do well in Europe with a warranty, and it needs a sensible engine for that, too.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @DenverMike – re-read the article. There wasn’t much demand for a few decades due to crappy interiors, crappy rear ends, questionable styling and thirsty gutless engines.
      There is a market for RWD V8 cars but they need to handle well and look and feel good.
      This Mustang delivers on all of those points and as an added bonus costs less than similar “continental” performance vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Lou,
        That is some of the negatives. Saw a silver one here two weeks ago, it looked like a Kia/ Toyota. So they do not stand out as a vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Mustangs have never been overly styled or cartoonish (Camaro), but that’s also a selling point. They sell to customers from all walks of life, age groups, across many tax brackets. Silver ones especially blend into traffic.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          I dont get it, the Capri was a big seller, yet it had leaf springs and a solid rear axle.

          Yeah, Mercedes and BMW had IRS and nicer interiors, but they wouldve been far more expensive than the Fox body Mustang, for example.

          I dont think interior materials were that far apart in the 80s/90s. There are a lot of factors that kept traditional American cars in the US then. But, especially in the case of the first and second generation Taurus, I think they wouldve done fairly well.

          The Taurus of that time was not a huge car, it wasnt bad on fuel, it handled well, rode well and was comfortable. I guess Ford figured in-house competition from the Scorpio was too risky to chance, but that car wasnt exactly a hot seller anyway. Perhaps the Taurus couldve filled the slot it missed, because although they looked similar, they were far different animals. A better I-4, manual transmission (better than the clunky Mazda unit the US Taurus MT-5 got), a RHD interior and a diesel engine option mightve been too much investment. I dunno.

          Its a shame the polorizing 3rd gen was the Taurus they chose to globalize. The first and second gen were more Euro-like, especially where driving dynamics were concerned.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            I agree that they could possibly have ‘globalized’ the Taurus, or maybe the Scorpio. Using all the development time and money on just one car it could have been so much better than spreading it on two cars that weren’t all that different size-wise.
            FWD was really catching on in Europe in the 80’s, so the Taurus definitely had an advantage there, and the Scorpio was just to ambitious for a brand that Europeans would never regard as a premium car anyway because of the blue oval, but could have been a decent ‘sporty’ mid-sizer in the US . Also, the Granada that the Scorpio replaced was almost the size of a Taurus.
            The Taurus biggest problem here in Europe was the engine/drivetrain. A 2.0i Scorpio was as fast as a 3-liter V6 Taurus, but got better milage in MT form than any Taurus.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        IRS and improved interiors no doubt make them more “world class” fighters against fancy Euro sports cars and sporty coupes, but there’s always been a robust Mustang following in places they’re not officially sold, shiny hard interiors, live axles and all.

        Some of their biggest fans and Mustang clubs are in Australia of all places.

        In the end, those little things don’t do much to improve the car, vs actual Ford dealer sales/finance/warranty/support. And IRS actually slows them down at the track.

        It’s mostly the haters and elitist that highlight those “faults”. We loved them before, and love them now, but you don’t see consumers here suddenly falling all over themselves to buy one.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          DenverDud,
          Just improving a vehicle may not be enough, especially when starting near the bottom.

          The vehicle must be better than the rest.

          Just improving is an half assed attempt.

          This Mustang is a good vehicle, but is must be better to improve it’s appeal globally.

          Not just looks, but build quality, interior, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            How long is the waiting list in Australia? 2018??

            You get more than what you pay for is the bottom line. Could Mustangs improve further, sure.

            Clearly you don’t speak for any Australians (that matter).

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            ALot have not seen these ” up close and personal” . They have poor interiors and materials. After the intial ” glow” has worn off, they will be joining Jeep which is looking at the latest figures in an extremely bad way

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “What it is that most American automakers don’t get … European customers are…”

    Who cares what European customers want? For selling 44 cars? Europeans don’t even have money to buy our cars. They don’t have money in general. They are indulging in self-destruction, destroying the very fabric of their own society. Why not making a law that new car can be sold only by official dealer and make all the grey importers go? Hey, thanks for teaching us what we don’t understand. At least we understand that we don’t want to be like you.

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      Those poor Europeans, busily rending the fabric of their society, bought 12.6 million new cars last year. If American manufacturers aren’t interested in getting some of those sales, fine. But making crap up so you can further blur the lines between right-wing politics and xenophobia doesn’t help anyone.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Top 10 Europe’s best selling cars are all small cars. And there some more small cars pushing it from behind. So there we go – out of 12 million cars you mentioned, 10M – small cars. I am not rich but I can drive a nice and comfortable car and not be cramped into it, and feel like human (in America). Xenophobia? I don’t fear them. I despise their socialism and lack of possibilities.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          Try driving a large car on European roads that connect their very nice freeways, not a pleasant experience

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          Slavuta, where in Europe have you been?

          I challenge you to go to Germany or Switzerland and pity the people for their “lack of possibilities.”

          Believe me, most of them don’t envy (or think much about) the US, and I say that as a child of European immigrants (while the rest of the family stayed in the old country and thinks of us as the poor emigrants). It’s different over there; not necessarily worse.

          Check out Switzerland’s tax rates, average income and pension and get back to us. The 4-5 weeks of paid vacation also let them get out of their own countries a bit instead of making up stories about how people live abroad.

          • 0 avatar
            Chan

            These cars are so small. It’s inhumane. How could they fit 300 lb. Americans?

            These streets are so narrow and there’s no parking. These houses don’t have yards. It’s inhumane.

            These burgers are so tiny. The people are starving. It’s inhumane.

            Their taxes are ridiculous. How can they tax for stuff you don’t use? It’s inhumane.

            Yurop is inhumane and they don’t have Freedom.

            Did I get that right?

          • 0 avatar
            06V66speed

            “How can they fit 300 lb. Americans?”

            @Chan: Clearly, you need to be watching more Top Gear.

            Or else you’d KNOW we ‘Muricans also like cheese on everything, and then we’ll shoot ya (for seemingly no reason).

            We even shoot our own state boundary signs, donchaknow.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      You may have missed the entire article explaining how the Mustang GT is flying off European dealer inventory due to decades of pent-up demand.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        44 Cars in Czechia is not exactly “Flying”

        • 0 avatar
          Chan

          That’s the Czech Republic, a car market orders of magnitude smaller than countries like France, Germany and the UK. Unless you’re saying that those countries are not buying Mustangs…again, contrary to what this article is explaining.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      European customers’ money is just as good as any other customer’s money.

      But car companies have to sell the right product in order to earn that money, and this story provided a valuable perspective on that.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Sounds like Trump.

    • 0 avatar
      MWolf

      Why so much hatred? Not all of Europe is perfect, some European countries do better than others, but we as Americans do plenty to destroy ourselves.

      Besides, Europeans seem to be buying cars just fine.

  • avatar
    OliverTwist

    Two things that Ford got it when others don’t:

    Ford Europe has well-established sales network all over Europe for decades, selling many different vehicles. Naturally, it was easy and no-brain to add Mustang to its model range. Not including the proper right-hand-drive version for the UK, Ireland, and Malta as well as a couple of little islands between the Great Britain and continental Europe.

    Ford Europe does advertise Mustang very heavily, and many sales centres have special event days to promote Mustang.

    Now about others that don’t get it…

    Chrysler? Without Jeep franchise, Chrysler couldn’t survive on its own in Europe. Adding Dodge brand a several years ago also made things more confusing for the European buyers. And it missed out on importing the Ram pick-up trucks, which are common sight in Germany and several European countries. Now FCA came up with brilliant plan to save Lancia by rebranding Chrysler and Dodge vehicles as Lancia, eliminating the Chrysler and Dodge brand in Europe except for the United Kingom where the Britons have long memory of Lancia vehicles totally rusted out before they left the sale fore courts.

    Cadillac? I cannot recall the last time I saw the advertisement for Cadillac. I still have no idea where Cadillac are offically sold since many Opel sales centres abandoned General Motors North American brands. Germans keep conjuring the ostentatious images of Cadillac of the past and are confused when seeing ATS, CTS, and alphanumerical model name, dressing in tight-fit Italian suit rather than loud and obnoxious disco attire of the 1970s.

    Chevrolet? Gone in the wind so briefly after its massive launch in Europe about a decade ago. Oh, wait! I forgot about Camaro and Corvette. They are sold without Chevrolet brand through selected Opel sales centres.

    Buick? Oldsmobile? Pontiac? General Motors fumbled with its marketing in Europe with so many similar models overlapping each other. “Why should I buy Oldsmobile 88 when I can buy Buick LeSabre or even Chevrolet Impala? They are same!” is the common complaint from the Europeans who don’t understand the Sloan ladder concept. Volkswagen does great job differentiating between Seat, Skoda, and Volkswagen.

    So there…

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Adding Dodge brand a several years ago also made things more confusing for the European buyers.”

      it didn’t help that they tried to introduce Dodge into Europe with the first generation of Chrysler Group vehicles which had been nickel-and-Daimlered to death. If I lived in Europe and you asked me if I’d buy a Dodge Caliber or Avenger, I’d have laughed you off of the continent.

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      Excellent!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I did see one sad looking Cadillac dealership in Germany last summer, near Stuttgart I think. They did have a few Corvettes out front too.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Germany is a 3+ million unit per annum market. 800 Mustangs per month may be a lot in comparison to other American cars, but that’s not a lot of cars.

    There is a tiny niche of Europeans who like traditional American virtues in their cars, but it’s just a niche. If there are implications to this, it’s that there may also be a niche for uber-American SUVs that has yet to be fully exploited, but that’s also just a niche.

  • avatar
    PriusV16

    Great article that hits the nail on the head.

    Another important factor might be the exterior styling of the current Mustang. It doesn’t look toy-like or overly boy racer-ish, it actually looks dignified and elegant. European car buyers like that, too.

    The Camaro, on the other hand, which is also officially sold by GM here in Germany, is a very rare sight on the roads here. I guess it just doesn’t look sophisticated enough.

  • avatar

    Maybe it’s because the Mustang ISN’T a soul-less European emissions-compliance mobile?

    Maybe it’s because they are FAST and SHINY?

    Maybe it’s because they are “different” – unlike all that ugly trash from Skoda, VW, Pukegot and other Euro brands not worth mentioning?

    The only downside is that they are “Mustangs” and have a tendency to spin out even when they are parked.

    Corvettes too.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I have one friend who owns a Mustang, and he managed to land it backwards in a ditch last winter.

      No damage, except to his pride. But it took a tow truck to pull his car out.

      Us FWD guys didn’t have any problem that day, even with an inch of snow over most roads.

      RWD is just a poor a match for the conditions in Illinois.

      Ditches love Mustangs!

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      Even today there are probably not many European cars that are as soul-less as most cars that have been available in the US since WW2. OK, we have to pay a huge price with the lack of reliability, and intense servicing, but apart from some VWs and Mercs, most European cars actually feel like they are built for and by people. As much as I like and respect my Honda, it really lack ergonimics, build quality, sound insulation, completely ridicilously overengineered solutions, any hind of interior design and touchy-feely swithces that my fellow Europeans seem to enjoy so much.
      I think in the US, if you compare a new Fusion(Mondeo) to the Taurus , or a Buick to a Chevrolet the difference is noticeable.
      Fast and Shiny gets you nowhere, all new cars are shiny, and all cars are fast eventually, accelleration is mostly wasted in Europe. The Mustang sells to people who wants an American muscle car, and I doubt they cross-shop it at all.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      BigTrucks,
      Wow, what a response!

      So, I can say US muscle cars are sh!t because they really don’t handle as well as they should.

      Do you know how to drive? Or do you just drag race from light to light?

      So you can’t chew gum and walk, ie, accelerate/decelerate whilst driving down twisty tarmac.

      What a silly little boy comment.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Heh… those pigs from FCA wish they could spin out. Even with the wheel turned full lock all a Hellkitty can do is plow straight ahead!

  • avatar
    Tstag

    it will be interesting to see if European car makers bother to respond and make their own muscle cars. I could for example see BMW dropping a V8 into a BMW 3 series based Triumph and as usual pitching it at the premium end of the market. It just depends on whether BMW and co see this as a long term bet. Or whether the future is electric which will ultimately doom cars like this. Giving the 3 series a roof chop and a V8 won’t cut it though as in my view people buying a Mustang want a bit more character in their cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I think if they did they would be as successful as the Japanese are at building full-size trucks, or as anyone other than Jeep is at building Jeeps.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Depends who you talk too, others are more successful at making better Jeeps and US Pickups

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        Zyko- Judging by Sergio’s performance so far, I wouldn’t base any long-term plans on Jeep maintaining its high sales pace. This is the guy who strong-armed his dealer body into “boutique” sales outlets for their precious little 500.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Tstag,
      All continents do have performance vehicles. Each has it’s own take on what a performance vehicle should be.

      The US want cheap performance vehicles, so they tended in the past to use cubic inches in a poor handling vehicle. The EU and Japanese tended to produce drivers cars.

      Australia made a drivers car with American V8s.

      I really don’t think US pony and muscle cars are the best. They are brutish and brash, but they are really designed to drag race from light to light.

      That’s why big and powerful pickups are the rage to some. And yet pickups handle like soft turds.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        “I really don’t think US pony and muscle cars are the best. They are brutish and brash, but they are really designed to drag race from light to light.”

        GT350R.
        Camaro 1LE.
        Camaro Z28.

        Very few vehicles anywhere in the world can run with them on a racetrack.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        “I really don’t think US pony and muscle cars are the best. They are brutish and brash, but they are really designed to drag race from light to light.”

        Oh man so close! You forgot the part about all american cars being awash in hard plastic.

        There have been a litany of American cars that were and are designed with a fair degree road competence. Even as far back as the 80’s domestic manufacturers were producing cars that had an affinity for a twisty road. For the Mustang that was the SVO and later even still with the fox cars the first SVT Cobras (1993) and the F-twins have usually done well in that arena (of particular note was the 4th gen Camaro SS which was lapping Milford as well as its Corvette contemporary – you can say that was damning for the Corvette but the SS was a really sorted out car).

        I think the only real fault with those earlier efforts was perhaps a lack of refinement in terms of how the cars felt. They could turn, stop, and accelerate well for the time but it seems like each of these events were treated distinctly rather than as a whole and that’s where things probably broke down and in the case of the live axle cars there was the issue with the ride.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          ‘Lack of refinement’ , I lol’d a little. Honeslty I would buy a Fox-Mustang over anything the german premiums brands have ever built if I were using my own money, but most American cars between 1957 and 2007 would have been proud to even reach ‘lack of refinement’ compared to their slower , less reliable and more expensive, but morecomfortable and practical European counterparts.
          Also, some European cars that are the size of the Mustang or the pony-car parody they call the Camaro would be able to seat 4 or 5 adults in comfort, carry most of your weekend luggage , while still coming just a bit shy of their racetrack times, (and possible even do more than one lap before the brakes stopped working), while getting twice the mileage, and only costing 3-4 times as much to buy and service…
          And still, I’d buy a Mustang over an RS6 Avant, or C63 AMG any day…
          (partly because there are so many Diesel mercs and audis here already that have all the styling bits, so the Mustang sticks out more)

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            My M235i, which is notably smaller than a Mustang, will actually fit four decent sized adults inside. The Mustang’s rear seat is decorative. The Camaro is simply a bad joke, no matter how fast it is.

            I actually really like the current Mustang. It’s sexy. It drives really well. I am a big fan of turbo 4s. But the interior still kind of sucks, it is ridiculously small inside for the size outside, I feel like I am sitting down in a well, and I can’t really see out of it. And they are not as cheap as everyone thinks once you option it the way you really want it. Yet even with all that, I would have bought one over a 4-series for sure, and maybe even my 2 if BMW didn’t have their fantastic European Delivery program. It’s a good car overall. Not perfect, but nothing is. The BMW does everything better, but for a price.

            And a much bigger price difference there than here, so I totally get why the Mustang is selling on the other side of the pond. Cheap and cool!

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            Maybe cohesiveness would have been a better choice over using refinement. Its always seemed to me the “american way” so to speak has been to chase a big number and disregard the subtleties ergo my comment about generating good numbers in separate driving events (braking, accelerating, et al) but not really tying them together.

            also packaging was never much of a forethought with the pony cars (the fox cars came closest but sacrificed some of that style) it was always style over function.

            I read plenty of people lamenting that – wondering why Ford or GM cannot design a Mustang or Camaro that can fit four or five adults in a tidy package but then they would end up with a pony car that looks like a 3 series (err, well 4 series now) and not like a pony car.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Big Al from Oz – “handle like soft turds”. Wow, I didn’t know that one could so easily cross over from engineering to scatophilia.

        you are a man of many talents.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Unless you’re a hater, what’s not to like?

    Europeans aren’t fond of “Pony Car” associated with their prestige 2+2, rwd sports coupes, V8 or no. But the Mustang is a 2+2 just the same, except reliable, 10s of thousands less euros, with slightly harder interior plastics.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    It’s an extremely good looking car for not a lot of money relatively. Lookswise, it can hold it’s own very well against the Europeans and Japanese.Also V8 and a manual. It would be interesting to see if Ford put a Porsche level interior in a Mustang what would happen, it would definitely make things interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Playskool interior? Meh. Who can focus on that while banging it through the gears, watching the speedo and tach needles rise and fall as it searches for traction and correcting the sideways?

      What’s kept me in Mustangs is their great ‘value’ proposition, “bang for the buck”. Clearly I’m not the only one seeing this, nor too obsessed with interior panels soft enough to chew on. What do you think has kept it around for so long. Fun yeah, but so cheap and affordable, they can’t possibly be making profit on it.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      VenomV12,
      I went down to a local Ford dealer and looked at the new Mustang in the showroom and I tend to agree regarding the interior.

      The interior could be done better and match the exterior.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Mustang Vignale? They’ve been doing it with the Mondeo for years, and they just added that upgrade interior to the US-market Fusion under a different name.

  • avatar
    NN

    Great write up as usual, Vojta. One American car export that has succeeded in Europe in quite a substantial way is the Tesla Model S. Tesla “gets it” more than the big 2.5 when it comes to the fact that Europeans will buy American cars after all. I believe when all Euro markets are combined, Model S sales in Europe are not that far behind US sales.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The Tesla is succeeding in Europe due primarily to epically favorable treatment by a couple of governments, Norway in particular. When subsidies make the car the price of a top spec Golf, with lower annual taxes, and you get to use bus lanes and skip tolls, and free parking, the actual merits of the car don’t really matter much.

      If I could get all that here, I’d buy two of them.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    How many brown, diesel ones did they sell?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Maybe we Americans don’t know how good we have it. I feel inclined to go get a new Mustang now…

  • avatar
    izido

    ” Subtracting the tax (which is, in fact, deductible for VAT-payers who pay the tax on their final product and can deduct it from any business expenses) moves that car much closer to its American pricing”

    Well, not exactly. In many (I don’t know about all, but many) European countries you can indeed deduct the VAT for company expense, however this only includes business VANS and not personal vehicles, even though they are a company car. On top of that, if a company offers you a personal vehicle to drive (even if you are the top honcho), it’s considered a form of non-cash income by government and is taxable at a usually very high rate. Therefore, you’d have a very tough time explaining to the taxman (or taxwoman) that you just purchased a Ford mustang to ferry vegetables from the market to your restaurant.

    Or you could modify it slightly, remove rear windows and replace them with non-transparent plastic covers and certify it as N1 vehicle. Than you’d end up with one helluva van and yes, deduct the VAT. It’s called having your mustang and eating it too…

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      Rules vary from country to country. Norway for instance has green license plates for certain commercial vehicles, a perk that will save you about 50% of the purchase price. The rule used to be that you need a certain amount of space/volume, physically separated from the driver, to qualify.

      After a significant amount of Volvo 850 R’s and Audi S6’s showed up as commercial vans in the statistics, rules were changed.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Well, at least we still have our loopholes here. How else am I supposed to go buy a new BMW X5 M and write off a significant chunk of it?

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Good article, and I agree that the fact that Ford is actually selling it through local dealerships is the main reason they are seling well. People who really loved Mustangs could buy or import one themselves in the past, but it’s a lot easier to go into a dealership and order one. As for ‘cheap’ or ‘bang for the buck’ in some countries, like here in Norway, it’s still hella expensive. A complete stripper 2.3 ecoboost is over 90K dollars here, and can easily be optioned to twice that amount.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      *Anything* cheaper in Norway?? What are you paying for European sports coupes, prestige or otherwise?

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        It’s relative. Norway is just Snowy Dubai in terms of oil-money.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        There truly isn’t really much to choose from if you want to go head to head with a Mustang when it comes to features for the price, but most likely ‘normal’ people will compare it to other coupes with rear seats like the A5 or 4-series or even C-klass, which are availabe with smaller engines, since there really is no way to use a 300+ horsepower engine in Norway legally. You probably won’t be banging through any gears with the V8 in a country where the speed limit is mostly 50mph, and this is a country where Honda struggles to sell cars because they don’t have small enough engine options availabe…
        So it’s not a fair fight, but it’s comparably priced to a (unicorn)stripper BMW 440 coupe, or A5 3.0 tfsi Quattro coupe. (both shich will cost quite a few thousands more when optioned up)
        But, my local Ford dealer sold their 9 months old demo-driven Ecoboost Mustang the same day they put it up for sale. Mustang enthusiasts will probably not cross-shop it at all, as there are no real competitors.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Teslas are cheap in Norway. Well, relatively speaking.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Zykotec,
      Norway does have the highest GDP per capita globally. Norway is quite green as well. Norway has less than 5 million people. Norway also has the highest standard of living int he world.

      Australia sits at number 2 and with disparity adjustment the US sits in 23rd position. So, I wouldn’t feel to bad.

      So, I do think this makes it harder to have vehicles sold cheaper. Some would say it’s good and some say it’s bad. But Norway seems to being doing okay.

      As someone else wrote, it’s all relative.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Yeah, I have no problem with it tbh, but it sure does help that I have little to no interest in brand new cars anyway . Also, I have too many children to go out drinking much, and I just quite smoking, so there are at least three ways I avoid the worst taxes here already XD. I’m also further left politically than the rest of the B’nB combined at times…
        Point is, you are probably a lot better off, both economically and when it comes to enoying drivign over here if you buy a small BMW coupe than if you buy a Mustang, which by European/Norwegian standards doesn’t really have a base model at all, considering the Ecoboost has race-car power as standard. XD

  • avatar
    Russycle

    ” Sales are so strong that allotments for official importers are usually sold out for the rest of the year …”

    I don’t get it. I know the new ‘stang is doing well, but is Ford selling every one they can build? Is there a reason, besides supply constraints, that importers can’t order more Mustangs?

  • avatar
    Chan

    I think the Mustang in Europe will be giving the BMW 4 series a run for its money.

    For much less money, you can get a good-looking 2-door RWD sporty coupe with a decent interior. And a ROARING n.a. V8, which BMW doesn’t even offer.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Not much of a run, considering the 4-series coupe is pretty much a unicorn in Europe. Even in Germany, a pretty rare car in a sea of 3-series wagons.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    I am always amazed at how little car guys pay attention to the price of fuel. Germans are paying for gasoline based on 20 USD per bbl. crude as opposed to 100 USD per bbl. a year ago. Is it any wonder that US car designs are selling?

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      According to google, unleaded is going for about 6 Euros a gallon in Germany. So not all that cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        One of the few “upsides” to sky high fixed per volume fuel taxes, is they tend to keep the price of fuel more constant and predictable.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Other benefits of high fuel taxes:
          – no more going to war in the middle east for imported oil
          – health insurance for every citizen is paid for
          – saving the planet
          – drivers learn how to enjoy driving with half the engine

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            Well. Gasoline prices at the pump in Germany used to be $7.42 per US gallon (2010). Now they are $5.60. Germans respond to dramatic price changes just like anyone else.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            A big chunk of that is the far more favorable exchange rate. When I was in Europe in 2011, it was $1.45-$1.50 to the Euro. Last summer, $1.10. Some swing in gas prices IS due to the price of oil, but it is mostly the exchange rate when you convert to dollars. Europeans do not pay for gas with dollars…

            I doubt very much anyone in Europe is running right out to buy an American muscle car because gas is slightly cheaper there. I don’t even want to think about what the annual taxes would be on a V8 Mustang in most of Europe.

            The fact that a measly 800 sales in a market of 3M in Germany makes it a best seller in class shows how little market there actually is for that sort of car there. It’s no different than things like the Lotus Elise and Alfa 4C over here.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            “– drivers learn how to enjoy driving with half the engine”

            That’s a bit like being raised on boiled beef and potatoes and never knowing about the existence of spices and other kinds of meat, vegetables or cooking methods

            You don’t miss what you don’t have.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    How many are sold in Germany? I don’t think the Mustang is taking the EU by storm. It is selling, in small numbers.

    The latest Mustang is a nice vehicle from Ford, along with the Transit and global Ranger. The three best vehicles from Ford. Why? Because they are truly global vehicles.

    The new Mustang here in Australia will sell in much larger numbers than the total for the EU judging by this article and Australia is not 600 million people, but 24 million.

    But, Australia has the world’s highest ownership of performance vehicles per captia.

    I hope the Mustang numbers in the EU improve enough to make Ford Eurpean’ise the vehicle even more. The EU like Australia like vehicles that tend to turn where they are pointed and roll and pitch like a boat in ocean riding swells.

    All Ford has to do now is release the Ranger in the US and give Australia a 2.7 EcoThirst version of the Ranger.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Probably the 3.5 as a Petrol engine. From memory, they have dropped all Petrol,engines, like its Mazda sibling.
      People will miss the Supercharged 4 Litre Barra, the 3.5 has very similar, torque and power outputs, but unfortunately a V6

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @BigAl –

      ” Australia has the world’s highest ownership of performance vehicles per captia.”

      and you bought an ugly re-skin of the Ranger.

      Your expertise in the performance market in duly noted.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        A general rule of intelligent debate, is that anyone quoting “statistics” involving “per capita”, has drank the cool aid, and has less of an idea what he is talking about than my dog. As opposed to in certain narrow, well controlled scientific venues; quoting “statistics” in public discourse, is simply a way for well indoctrinated adherents of the progressive quasi-religion, to show off their unquestioning obedience to the ones Dear Leader have told them are their rightful superiors.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          stuki,
          Please share with us your educational history. I’d really like to know where you learned all this fascinating knowledge. Elementary school on up.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          stuki – statistics have merit if one posts links or references to the source or sources but is also dependant upon what is being compared and does it add value to the discussion and/or debate.

          In BAFO’s case I’m not sure the merit of his post other than to back up his anti-USA vehicle rhetoric and to somehow show that he has expertise in this discussion.

  • avatar
    makuribu

    The problem with North American cars in Europe is that they are huge compared to the roads. The Mustang is too wide to drive on tiny twisty back roads, and a nightmare in an old city that was built for people and horses. As long as you stick to the motorways you are OK, but you’re going to have to park them outside the walled towns and bicycle in.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      The Mustang is comparable in size to the Mondeo/Fusion that sells well in Europe. 2 inches wider, but 4 inches shorter.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Driving or parking, the lowest common denominator (most drivers) require much more space around them than they actually need or use. What’s a Mustang’s width/length vs a Volvo or VW? A few cm all the way around? Not for the faint of heart I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Why do we assume Europe is just tiny roads and congested streets? There are many old cities that are tight or “old” sectors of some cities but it isn’t as endemic a problem as we like to make out.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    The Mustang would always have been a big seller in Australia if it were available from the factory in a RHD version like all BMWs, Mercs etc. It will sell OK here now as Ford closes down local production and eliminates the low cost competition.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Exactly and I tried explaining that to a certain set of assshats from OZ that’ll remain nameless, a few years ago on these pages.

      Aussies have too high a “standard”, they screamed.

      It was clear then, their hate of Mustangs didn’t speak for the army of fans and owners in OZ alone, let alone Europe. They hate anything and everything with America’s “stink” on it.

      Likewise the rare and “unwanted” F-150 has never had a fair shake in OZ, meaning factory RHD/dealer availability, support, finance, warranty and obviously, a rational and competitive price. It could be next in OZ/Europe.

  • avatar
    Rday

    Very good article. Great to see an American brand doing well in Europe.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    How is a Mustang GT “massively faster” than a BMW 2 or 4 series? The Ecoboost Mustang has the same 0-60 as the 228i and 428i, the GT is the same as the M235i and 435i – and I suspect it would take a lot of talent to match what an AWD BMW can do by just planting your foot on the floor (but what is the fun of that?). The 440i (assume that is out in Europe) is no slower than the 435i, it just has the newer engine with slightly more power.

    The BMWs will sit on the 155mph limiter from one side of Germany to the other, repeatedly. Can a Mustang do that these days? Near as I can tell, the Ecoboost is limited to 145, the GT to 155. The V6 a lousy 120 but they don’t sell that in Europe. I would hope so, but I don’t know – fastest I have driven a Mustang is about 80. American cars used to be notorious for blowing up at sustained high speeds. 0-60 is largely irrelevant in Germany, though 30-155 was a lot of fun leaving Autobahn rest areas. :-) The V8 would likely be a lot of fun doing that too, all that hp is more useful at higher speeds.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      “Can a Mustang do that these days?”

      Should be able to, tis’ part of the reason every Mustang that is exported to Europe gets the “Performance Pack” treatment. Although dont ask them to do police duty in places close to the Equator. For whatever reason the cooling system in the Mustang seems marginal at best in base form I would suppose as a cost saving measure. And its not like they don’t have an idea how these things work. When you ordered the supposedly 200 mph capable 662 hp GT500 it came fitted with additional or uprated coolers for the differential and the engine (even the speed limited versions were granted some upgrades in the form of a freer flowing grille and better cooling fan if not more).

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • FreedMike: BTW, that was the second post I’ve put on the wrong thread today. This new commenting system rots.
  • ToddAtlasF1: Choice of search engine isn’t something I expend much thought on, but duckduckgo doesn’t...
  • FreedMike: Yeah, I remember the first time I tried hash.
  • Art Vandelay: I don’t disagree, but who uses Bing?
  • FreedMike: Whoops, duplicate post.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States