New Ford Mustang debuts across the globe
An icon of the automobile industry, the Ford Mustang, is being launched globally, marking the next chapter in the car's fifty years of production.
With nine million models sold since its launch in 1964, when it sold for $2,368, the Ford Mustang has become something of a legend in terms of popular culture, celebrated in the hit song "Mustang Sally" and featured in the James Bond film "Goldfinger."
Although the car has been imported by car aficionados for many years, Ford is now officially releasing the model around the world in an attempt to truly turn the brand global. It will go on sale in 2015.
Stephen Odell, president of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Ford, told CNBC that the car would be launched in six cities.
"It's a global launch, we're launching Mustang in six cities on four continents simultaneously and we're really excited about it – there are already a million Facebook followers in Europe following Mustang because it's such a passionate icon of the automotive industry."
He called the latest Mustang model – the sixth in a generation of Mustangs that falls into the "pony car" niche of cars which are slightly larger than the average European sports car – "the next step in the American icon's" global evolution. It will be the first time that the car is officially sold in the U.K. too.
"The Brits have been importing them for years and now we're going to be able to facilitate that as we're bringing in the coupe and the convertible, left and right-hand drive so the Brits among us will be able to drive it officially on the road."
The move is a bold step for Ford with car sales in Europe hitting an almost two-decade low this summer as the financial crisis hit incomes and consumer demand hard. Although most industry analysts believed that the industry would start to recover in 2014, demand is still subdued in parts of Europe – notably Germany and France.
"The segments have stayed the same so even though the pre-recession the western European industry was 18 million [cars sales a year] and now we're at 13.5 million, that sports car segment has actually remained fairly stable and we're very confident that there is an absolute desire for the product in Europe in that bandwidth."
He said the company was seeing a rebound in sales growth in countries like Spain and Italy and although this year would be the "lowest car industry in 20-plus years," the industry as a whole would start to recover at "a moderate rate" next year.
Ford announced last year that it would be launching 15 new products in five years, and has since increased that number to 25 new products in the same timeframe. Odell insisted that it was important to keep releasing new models into the European market, despite the slump in demand.
"It's an exciting car and cars are an exciting business and usually it's the second largest acquisition that people make so we think it's important to put exciting cars there," he said. "Mustang is just one – a very important one –but just one among a plethora of cars that we're bringing to the European theater."
- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt