FORD ON THE 112th FLOOR: Ford's executive chairman Bill Ford delivers the pony badge to a 2015 Mustang on the skydeck floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai .Image: Newspress / Ford
• Bill Ford helps launch business unit
• Ford pledged to launch 25 vehicles
• Middle East/Africa sales forecast +40%
DUBAI, UAE - Ford has underscored its growing ambitions in the Middle East and Africa (which includes South Africa) with what it calls "the dramatic introduction of the all-new Mustang" on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
It's not the first time the automaker has used this awesome building on its own "island' just off one of Dubai's beaches.
NO CHOPPER, LIVE BUILD!
Ford's executive chairman, Bill Ford, capped the live event by delivering the iconic pony badge to the 2015 yellow Mustang on the 112th floor of the skyscraper. The event was viewed live around the world on YouTube as well as by about 10 000 fans gathered in the Dubai downtown area overlooking the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa.
The Mustang was not helicoptered in - it had to be assembled on the open-air deck at the top of the building (to watch the build, click on this link.)
Bill Ford said: "Today we planted the Ford flag in the Middle East and Africa - an exciting, vibrant region that represents the final frontier for growth in the auto industry. We also sent a message to the world that the Mustang is going global after 50 years as America’s greatest motoring icon."
Ford established its Middle East and Africa business unit earlier in 2014. It covers the company’s automotive business in 67 Ford markets in North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa and the adjacent Middle East where sales are expected to grow by 40% to 5.5-million vehicles by 2020.
To meet new customer demand, Ford pledged to launch 25 vehicles in the region by the end of 2016, including the all-new Mustang which will arrive in 2015.
'BRINGING FOUNDER'S VISION'
Viewers of the light-hearted action spectacle witnessed a dramatic journey that started with a hero figure on a cliff in Arizona taking an urgent call. The unknown protagonist then races on horseback, airliner, car, helicopter and jet ski to Dubai to deliver thepony badge.
Only in the final scene on the 112th floor of the Burj Khalifa – 399m above the ground – was the protagonist revealed with a wink and a nod - Bill Ford, great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford.
Jim Benintende, president of Ford Middle East and Africa, said: “A century ago Henry Ford had a vision to open the highways to all mankind. Placing our regional headquarters in Dubai lets us tap the innovation and imagination that’s flourishing here, helping us to bring our founder’s vision to this part of the world.”
In addition to the Mustang, Ford has also announced a plan to introduce new vehicles such as the Ford Focus, Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKC in the Middle East and Africa. The company also announced the accelerated roll-out of many new technologies to the region, among them EcoBoost engines, Sync in-car connectivity, inflatable rear seat belts, MyKey and other driving assistance technologies.
For the first time in its 50-year history the Ford Mustang will be available in a factory-built, right-hand-drive configuration. It will be available in South Africa.