Sunday, November 7, 2010

Would South Koreans buy the Ford F150 pick-up truck?

Over at The Marmot's Hole, where there's a discussion about Ford's opposition to the KORUS FTA, guest blogger Wangkon offered an optimistic scenario involving Detroit's Big Three setting a target of 100,000 units in South Korea that might include sales of the Ford F150 pick-up truck, the kind of thing that does not currently exist in the South Korean market (right?).

Frequent commenter cm is skeptical, saying that SoKo consumers go for the high-end foreign products, like Lexus or BMW, and a Ford just wouldn't cut it, perhaps not even a Ford Mustang muscle car or a Cadillac Escalade pimp mobile.

But that begs the question: instead of Ford, GM, and Chrysler following on with their own luxury vehicles, would it not be wiser to squeeze into a niche market and go from there. In short, is there a market for the Ford F150?

I'm not a big fan of these vehicles. I usually encounter them in the city where they are glorified peoplemovers (and often with just one people) that guzzle gas and create a road hazard for other drivers. Indeed, among my ilk we refer to them as Hillbilly Hummers.

I would hate to see them become prevalent on Seoul streets, but is there a market for them out in the countryside, where trudging loads across snowy hills or muddy roads is something people actually need to do from time to time?

Like Wangkon, I'd like to see these things become more fuel-efficient, since other people's gas consumption does affect you, both with pump price and pollution. But if that can be resolved, would these be a good fit anywhere in provincial Korea?

Discuss.

Sphere: Related Content

5 comments:

  1. I've seen one or two vehicles like this (imported pick-ups) in the rural area where I currently live. They're certainly not common and would it be unrealistic to expect poor farmers to buy expensive imported vehicles.
    Korean piuck-up drivers, from what I've seen, are usually male, under 40, and agressive.
    One of my students drives a Lincoln, and I see a few Caddies and Chevvies around as well. That's what the US car manufacturers should be focusing on sellin in Korea.
    No matter how affordable they US make their cars here in Korea, I don't think price will matter.
    At the moment, imported autos are valued because they're expensive and hard to get. If they become easier to get (and cheaper), they'll lose some of their appeal.
    Also, if it's a matter of price, I think desire to support of local (Korean) manufacturers will trump the desire for something exotic.
    Perhaps I'm wrong... maybe there will be a rush for cheaper vehicles from th states (if that's going to happen as part of the KOR-US FTA), but I don't think it will last long. As I said, when they are eaiser to get, they'll be less exotic and therefore less attractive.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Please excuse my spelling mistake: 'piuck-up'.
    It sounds like a combination of 'pick-up' and 'puke-up'.
    Actually, that may be a Freudian slip... because that's how I feel about them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. And all the other mistakes...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Schplook wrote:
    They're certainly not common and would it be unrealistic to expect poor farmers to buy expensive imported vehicles.

    I guess it would depend on how far down they come. Frankly, I have no idea how much the Bongo-type trucks are, so I can't really say. But a bare-bones Ford F150 (or a Toyota Tacoma) isn't all that expensive either.

    Korean piuck-up drivers, from what I've seen, are usually male, under 40, and agressive.

    Well, then a meaty F150 or a Dodge Ram might be up their alley.

    At the moment, imported autos are valued because they're expensive and hard to get. If they become easier to get (and cheaper), they'll lose some of their appeal.

    I think to some degree what you're saying is true, but if this is the people out in the provinces, a foreign vehicle might still seem "special." It could appeal to all those people who liked having the Mercedes-Benz symbol on their Korean-made Korando (with the Mercedes engine).

    Also, if it's a matter of price, I think desire to support of local (Korean) manufacturers will trump the desire for something exotic.

    Frankly, I don't see that as much of a factor any more. No more than, say, in the US (and yeah, nationalistic appeals to the flag still are a factor in some marketing strategies of Ford, Chrysler, and GM. (Yeah, Jeep, a GM make, lays it on a bit thick; see also here, a commercial where the K-blog commentariat would be crying foul were it a Korean commercial).

    Um, anyway, the "Buy Korean!" idea has always butt head with the "Foreign stuff is cool!" current, and if "cool" stuff by Ford, GM, or Chrysler were to be imported at cheap enough prices, I think a lot of young people would find it appealing. Call it the iPod effect.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well... I don't think I said I like to see them more fuel efficient. I think I said I'd like to see them cleaner. Asking for these behemoths to be more fuel efficient is asking for too much. It takes oh so much energy to move mass. At some point, in order to use energy more efficiently, you need to reduce the mass. Getting these vehicles to be cleaner over a five year period is a much more realistic goal.

    ReplyDelete

Share your thoughts, but please be kind and respectful. My mom reads this blog.