By Bernie Woodall
DEARBORN Michigan (Reuters) - Motor Co on Tuesday unveiled the 2015 Edge, which it hopes will strengthen sales in the fast-growing near-luxury crossover vehicle markets in China, Europe and the Americas.
The redesigned Edge will be Ford’s first global crossover vehicle. It has been sold in North America since late 2006, in Brazil since 2008 and in China since 2011. The new Edge will begin sales in North America early next year and in Europe by the end of 2015.
Ford is pitching the Edge as a near-luxury vehicle that can compete outside North America with premium German brands. Jim Farley, head of Ford's global sales and marketing, said that in Europe the Edge will be aimed at market-leading crossovers from Volkswagen AG's Audi, BMW and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz brands.
On Tuesday, Ford showed off the new Edge to reporters in Dearborn, Michigan, and Cologne, Germany. The 2015 Edge was previewed as a concept last fall at the Los Angeles auto show.
“The all-new Edge is a showcase of Ford’s smartest technologies, the best of everything we have brought to market to date,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of the Americas.
The two-row, five-passenger crossover vehicle shares the same mechanical underpinnings as Ford's midsize Fusion and Mondeo sedans.
The global utility market, which includes SUVs and crossover vehicles, is now 19 percent of total sales, and demand has risen 87 percent worldwide since 2008, Farley said. In China, sales of such vehicles are expected to double by 2018, when one in three global utility vehicles will be sold there.
Among midsize crossover vehicles in the United States this year, the Edge is second behind General Motors Co's Chevrolet Equinox, which outsells it by nearly two to one. Through May, the Equinox had sales of about 102,800, up 14 percent from the previous year, compared with 55,400 for Edge, up 0.4 percent.
The 2014 Edge is priced from just under $29,000 for the base model, with the top-of-the-line Edge Sport starting at $40,445.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Dan Grebler)