By on January 25, 2008

ford_mondeo_04.jpgBefore emailing a rave review of the new Ford Mondeo, I wanted to understand why an automaker with such great products in the Eurozone has such a mediocre reputation. Posing as a potential purchaser, I phoned to make an appointment for a test drive. Employee of Dealership A: "We have one Mondeo you could try out, but we are booked for the next ten days, I think." Sales guy at Dealership B: "Sorry, I just started here six months ago, the guy in charge is on sick leave.” His stand-in? On vacation. “Please call again in a week or so.” See? It’s NOT all about the product. But I digress…

The Ford dealer experience is miserable, but the Mondeo’s visual delights are marvelous. For me, a handsome car needs three basic characteristics: strength, cleanliness and character. The Mondeo nails all three. The four-door Ford’s long wheelbase (much longer than, for example, the Passat) accentuates its wide, muscular stance. Its sleek headlamps and taut taillights render it instantly recognizable; the detailing is flawless. It's just what America needs: a non-bland, better-proportioned, more modern Taurus.

The Mondeo’s interior may not be a high-style zone, but it’s a satisfying, well-thought-out piece of work. Plastics invite intimacy, sound good to a rapped knuckle, smell fine and are aligned to the dot. The ergonomics excel, in that thoroughly unobjectionable way you expect from a carefully-considered mass market appliance.

cid_bb1d86de-e0fe-42c5-a185-18fa9e4a9115local.jpgOn the downside, from a back-seat perspective, the middle console looks like it has labia (not an association its designer should be trying to achieve when there’s a stubby gear shifter in view). The cabin’s fake-aluminum steering wheel buttons look cheesier than Cheddar. And the three-quarters rear visibility is poor. But let's concentrate on the fact that the Mondeo has impressive (above E-class, better-than-Fusion) space for five, and a giant trunk to boot.

In case you were wondering, the Ford Mondeo is a front wheel-drive (FWD) vehicle. The sedan completely violates the pistonhead principle that FWD’s packaging and weight advantages exact a major penalty from the driving dynamics.

My tester holstered Ford's 2.0-liter, 140hp diesel. The oil burner is an extremely refined unit, significantly smoother than the highly respected Volkswagen TDI. On paper, the diesel Mondeo’s 10.6 second zero to sixty sprint time seems, as the French are wont to say, insupportable. But the Mondeo serves-up a wave of torquey thrust from 1800 – 4500 rpm that helps Mondeo man maintain momentum. Using the standard light-action six-speed manual, I never ran out of gears. No matter how hard I thrashed the powerplant, I never saw less than 29 mpg. At a more sedate pace, I averaged 35 mpg.

mondeo_sardinia_20.jpgThanks to Ford chassis guru Richard Parry-Jones, the Mondeo’s handling is a revelation. Accelerating briskly from rest on a dusty back road, there was a bit of scamper from the inside front tire. But the Mondeo’s electronic damper control system, which pitches the car forward on low-traction surfaces, gave great grip. During a pedal-to-the-floor exit from a roundabout, the feedback-intensive tiller produced a slight tug and then… nothing.

When I lifted off the gas pedal in a high-speed curve, and then floored it, the Mondeo remained unruffled, with no nonsense from the electronic stability Nanny. While we’re at it, how about a 90-degree merge and full-thrust run into an uneven-camber secondary road? Well, in this case, the steering wheel needed a bit of coercive correction, and, to paraphrase Dorothy, I have a feeling we’re not in a BMW anymore. But the Mondeo is inherently fun, agile, and composed– aside from the snatchy brakes (the bane of so many contemporary cars).

The Mondeo rides well, too. On the freeway, over secondary undulations, the Mondeo is bettered by world-leading softies from Lexus, Mercedes and Citroen. In all other conditions, the Ford product rides like the low, long-wheelbase, wide car that it is: well-controlled, comfortable and calm. On a quiet Autobahn morning, I found myself passing other cars as if they were standing still. I peeked at the odometer and saw an indicated 135 mph. Bliss.

ford_mondeo_02.jpgSo what is the Mondeo? We could quote Germany's famously chauvinistic Auto,Motor & Sport, who said the Ford family sedan is better than the C-Class Mercedes. But let's just say it's a lower-profile, less-roomy Ford S-Max with slightly better handling and somewhat better fuel economy.

But more than that, the Ford Mondeo is exactly what its American admirers believe it to be: four-wheeled proof that Ford can build a world-class, value-priced car that satisfies both practical and emotional desires. So why haven’t they? That’s a discussion for another time. For now, I’ll say this: if Ford can’t send the Mondeo stateside at a profit, they should send the people who built it. And if they build it, customers will come. It’s as simple as that.

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100 Comments on “2008 Ford Mondeo Ghia Review...”


  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    The plastic wood (awful…) is only in the Ghia trim… just take a Titanium or Titanium X with shiny silver stuff instead of the polymer wood.
    As an added bonus, they have the huge color LCD between the tach and the speedometer standard.
    The interior picture in the review shows a Titanium X model – silver interior bits, leather/alcantara seats and LCD…
    Edit: Now the picture has been changed to show a Ghia model.

  • avatar
    thalter

    As the current owner of a Euro Focus (only in the US we call it the Mazda 3), I so want one of these.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Sad that Ford can make a world-class car and not offer it to, well, the WORLD! Man, I remember even the old Euro-Escorts of the late 80′s made our variants look like trash. Give me a spirited engine mated to a nice manual tranny, wrap it in stylish clothing and toss in a bit of handling fun and I’m there. Now will Ford perhaps smell the coffee and consider sending this Camcord killer over?

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Makes me wonder if Alan Mually is even aware of Ford’s European operations.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Mullaly’s aware, all right. He wanted to bring the new Ford Kuga crossover, but we can’t afford it stateside due to the devaluation of the dollar.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Are those miles per Imperial gallon or per US gallon? The Imperial gallon is about 20% larger than the US gallon, and I find a lot of reviews of Euro products that quote good economy numbers that seem less impressive when converted to US units.

  • avatar
    AKM

    If I was in the market for a mid-size sedans and that baby was around, I’d run to my Ford dealership ASAP!
    Heck, even if I was not in the market for a mid-size.

    If I remember correctly, Mullaly originally wanted to bring more “kynetic design” to the US, because European Fords look so damn hot, but the US designer responsible for the “Red, White, and Bold” opposed the move…what a joke!

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @Brian E
    “Are those miles per Imperial gallon or per US gallon?”

    Martin Schwoerer is German, so why would he use Imperial gallons, which are used in exactly zero countries in continental Europe? We use l/100km and are well aware of the difference between Imperial and US gallons. Ve haff vays to do unit conversions.
    35 mpg is not unusual for that size class of car. My father has a 2006 BMW 530d (231 hp) and averages 34 mpg over the life of the car.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Instead of having 3 platforms for midsize cars in production at the same time (Mazda 6, Mondeo, Fusion/Milan/MKZ) perhaps Ford could gain some economies of scale by producing 1 platform with brand/country specific body panels/chassis tuning/nvh/etc and give everybody a great car while still making a profit. The Mondeo is awesome, start with that.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    The faux wood is terrible, as it is in any car. Get the aluminum finish. This car would be great stateside. Even though it is a looker, by the time it gets here, if it gets here, it will not be the style statement that it is now. I’d hate for the Mondeo to come here and for it to flop because of bad marketing and poor product positioning. As a Mercury, it wouldn’t get the marketing resources or dealer network it would need. As a Ford, it would conflict with the successful Fusion and cannibalize marketing dollars. Even if they find a market niche for it at all, if it takes more than six months for Ford to bring it here, I don’t think they should bother until the next generation. Part of the trick of marketing products properly is being timely. Bringing over an afterthought is often an expensive flop.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @guyincognito
    “perhaps Ford could gain some economies of scale by producing 1 platform with brand/country specific body panels/chassis tuning/nvh/etc”

    Mazda6 and Ford Fusion are on the same platform, Mondeo/S-Max/Galaxy, Land Rover LR2 and Volvo S80/V70 are on the same platform (EUCD).

    It would make sense to go from these two platforms to only one, though, as they seem to have the same basic character anyway.

  • avatar
    BigChiefMuffin

    “The oil burner is an extremely refined unit, significantly smoother than the highly respected Volkswagen TDI”

    The VW unit is a really old pump durse thingy. It has many attributes, but if you ask anyone who has ever used one, they would not put refinement as one of them. It is a really noisy rattly thing, which is why WV is replacing at the moment in its newer models…

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Mirko, thanks for answering Brian’s question for me — all I can do is add that I got an average of about 6.8L/100 km, equivalent to about 42MPG imperial, 35MPG U.S.

    Which I think is pretty neat for a car that feels strong, sounds quiet and likes to cruise at 100 mph (U.S.)

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @BigChiefMuffin
    …with a 143hp common rail diesel, which should bring NVH parity with the competition. It’s already in the Audi A4 and VW Tiguan.
    My favourite 2.0 diesel is the one in the BMW 320d. 0-62 in 7.9 seconds and a 49 mpg rating. Best selling engine in the 3-series.

    @Martin Schwoerer
    It is. I wonder how the upcoming 2.2 175hp twin-scroll turbo diesel will do in the Mondeo. So far, it has done well in all it’s previous applications (manual Citroen C6, Peugeot 607, 407, Mitsubishi Outlander and it’s badgineered twins)

  • avatar
    NN

    Clarkson sung the praises on this car, too, saying no one needs to buy BMW’s, Merc’s, etc. when this is on the market. We all know he can be pretty tough.

    The problem with selling this in the USA is that Americans won’t buy a $35k Ford sedan. And it’s not just the exchange rate…it took lots of investment in expensive, high quality parts and engineering to create this vehicle. That is what it takes to sell a midsize sedan in Europe, and people will pay for it. In the USA, cars are engineered more to meet cost restrictions…even the Camry’s and Accords. Even if they moved Mondeo production to the US or Mexico, I bet they’d have to decontent the vehicle or change some of the quality on the parts in order to be able to sell the car at a profit and compete pricewise with the Camcords. That would piss all the Americans off, and we’d be crying foul again.

  • avatar

    NN: bet they’d have to decontent the vehicle or change some of the quality on the parts in order to be able to sell the car at a profit and compete pricewise with the Camcords. That would piss all the Americans off, and we’d be crying foul again. Here’s a weird idea: forget profit. Go for market share. If Ford NA continues to shrink, its overheads will kill it– and the rest of the company, At some point, they need to hold the line, no matter what. A killer app is the dish of the day, if they but knew it. Because even if it loses them money, it could well save the brand. And the brand isn’t everything. It’s the only thing. BTW: inconsistency spotters may note that Saturn/GM is importing the Belgian-built Astra with this philosophy. One problem: it’s not a killer app. Is the Mondeo? With the right marketing, it could be. It’s certainly got a lot better prospects than a new new Taurus.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Or bring it over as a Lincoln or maybe even a Mercury. Wouldn’t it be nice to have Lincoln (or Mercury) that wasn’t just a Ford with a fancy grille?

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @RF
    “Is the Mondeo [a killer app]? With the right marketing, it could be. It’s certainly got a lot better prospects than a new new Taurus.”

    Didn’t Ford announce there would be a new Taurus for the 2009 model year? Maybe we’ll be in for a surprise…

    “Presenting the 2009 Taudeo”

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Some thoughts on the economics of building such a car in the U.S. / (in Mexico).

    The development costs are already sunk, as it were. That’s why Daimler can con itself into thinking they can sell the Smart in the U.S. at a profit.

    Material costs are identical, no matter where.

    Labor costs are sky-high in Europe; The Mondeo is built by what Clarkson would call Northern-African immigrants, in Belgium. Yet over here it competes, price-wise, with anything offered by the Japanese or Koreans.

    Thus, I find it hard to believe that Ford could not offer a superior car in the U.S. if they really wanted to. My reasoning may be simplistic but to me it smacks of the “not built here” syndrome — of a bureaucracy at war with itself.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Sure, a $38K price would kill the car, but if production went worldwide, and they weren’t supporting so many platforms, then unit cost would drop.

    Ferd’s big mistake is that they have thes eengineering silos that effectively mean that Euro cars are not engineered for the US market, and vice-versa (though it rarley works that way). Had the new Mondeo been designed and engineered as a world platform and used to replace the Taurus, they could have kept the price in line.

    Ford has some excellent product in Europe now, (Mondeo, S-Max, Kuga, etc.), while NA is stuck with some truly boring cars.

    AM needs to get this sorted out pronto. They need this car in NA, and now.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Mirko Reinhardt :

    I disagree. The Fusion/Milan/MKZ were conceived with the plan to use the Mazda 6 platform but grew enough and created enough unique components to be defined as a new platform entirely, IMHO.

    ed. Also, re: building the Mondeo here, it wouldn’t be a straight drop in to the US. There are changes that need to be made to support US regulations/cost concerns (unless it was designed from the beginning with all market requirements in mind) and it takes alot of discipline to make these changes without changing everything else, ref my comment above.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Folks – it’s all about cost. Most Americans probably wouldn’t pay $30K for this car – they are used to 4cyl FWD mid-zizers to start at $20K or below. That’s why Ford developed the Fusion for the US market as they can build it cheaper and meet price expectations.

  • avatar
    drifter

    This car will cost 5-series money in US$.
    10.6 second zero to sixty sprint time @ 29 mpg is not that impressive when Accords and Altimas are 2 seconds faster with while returning mpg in high 20s with chepaer fuel (regular undleaded v diesel

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Labia?, what labia?

    the same people who say people won’t pay 35k for a Ford are the same people who claimed that Lexus wouldn’t work because who would pay huge money for a warmed over toyota. with bling.

    In the past you would have right not to because it was “meanly engineered” in the words of LKJ Setright or too small in the case of the Contour but this is a good car. A car would go some way to restoring the ford brand. (Now to work on the dealers)

    NA should have this instead of a warmedover Mazda 6,and the 08 orion falcon from OZ should be the taurus.

  • avatar
    Mj0lnir

    I don’t understand why losing money on this car is a problem.

    Ford already loses money, so wouldn’t it be smarter to lose money on something people want?

  • avatar
    shabatski

    Alan, if you’re reading this BRING THIS CAR STATESIDE! I know you have to MAKE it here for it to be profitable, so start re-tooling and maybe you’ll be ready the next time I’m in the market for a new car. Honestly, I like Ford’s over any other American brand, but I still don’t like the Fusion enough to jump out of my Legacy just yet. This could bring me back to the domestics – just keep making fantastic progress in the reliability department and bring/make better products for us American consumers!!

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    Aren’t we essentially getting this in a few months in the form of the new Mazda 6?

    Even if the price is too high to sell it as a Ford here, if they could cut two or three thousand off the price they could sell it as a Mercury…

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    My favourite 2.0 diesel is the one in the BMW 320d. 0-62 in 7.9 seconds and a 49 mpg rating. Best selling engine in the 3-series.

    0-60 in under 8 seconds with a 49 mpg rating!? What’s not to love, and why can’t we have it here!

    If the price of the Ford Mondeo would be in the mid $30k if brought to the US, the obvious solution, as others have already pointed out, would be to sell it as a Mercury or possibly a Lincoln. If it truly is on a par with a BMW 3 Series/Mercedes C class, Lincoln or Mercury would be the brand it belongs in anyway.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    On the downside, from a back-seat perspective, the middle console looks like it has labia

    Expect a not-very-pleasant e-mail/message from a San Francisco newspaper….

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Martin, perhaps considering the uproar here about bringing this vehicle to market begs a question:

    IS this Mondeo superior, in any way, to the inbound Mazda 6?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Mulally is rolling a boulder uphill trying to change a corporate culture steeped in cronyism and mediocrity. Couldn’t he do a leadership swap for a year? Get top level and line managers from NA to visit Europe to understand better ways of doing things, and bring the bright minds of Ford Europe over here to make changes. Empower the guys from across the pond to make changes and handcuff the bueracrats from stateside to limit any damage they can do.

    Getting rid of overpaid welders was a good start.

    This car’s existence says it all about the differences in design language, coherence and engineering compared with Ford NA. Ford NA design doesn’t want it?? Couldn’t imagine why.

  • avatar

    Excellent review, Martin. Further proof that my hypothetical Mercury Mondeo would not only save the brand, it would eat VW’s lunch (and other premium family sedan brands) in the States. If only people would forget about money.

    But…One post on the blogosphere said that J Mays is now in charge of creating a global design language…which kinda sounds like Ford plans on making the next generation Taurus look very much like this Mondeo. Not a bad idea.

    —————————

    guyincognito: I’m curious, just how different is the Fusion from the Mazda 6? From what I’ve seen, engines, transmissions, even rear sway bars interchange. It sounds like when Ford made the MN-12 chassis and renamed it the FN-10 for the Lincoln variant.

    So if I put a Fusion/Mazda6 on a chassis lift, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck… :)

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Makes me wonder if Alan Mually is even aware of Ford’s European operations.

    Ford has a poor history of selling its European and Euro-based cars in this country. When Mondeos were sold here as Contours and Mystiques, they flopped. The Merkurs flopped.

    Those who sell the highest volumes in this segment — Toyota, Honda and Nissan — all make mid-sized sedans specifically with the US in mind, touting different cars to the Europeans. Meanwhile, Ford attributes the failure of the 500 to its “European styling” and its success with the Mustang to its American retro look. With all that, I wouldn’t get my hopes up that this will ever be sold in the United States, in any form.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    socsndaisy : According to my memory, the Ford is somewhat more spacious, has better-adapted Diesels, a slightly better ride-handling compromise, and better insurance ratings in Europe. The Mazda has (even) better reliability statistics. I haven’t driven the Mazda though. And if anybody here knows better, pls feel free to correct these off-the-cuff statements.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    The American automotive industry was built up based on the principal of: make it simple, make it quick, and make a lot of it. Americans needs cheap affordable tansportation right now! Cars in the good ole USA were considered a right or a necessity and the job of Detroit was to get as many cars as possible into the hands of Americans. Today it is very hard to remember a time of such growth and prosperity that we could actually envision an industry experiencing growth into the unforseeable future.

    The european auto industry has always seen the automobile as a luxury item of which ownership was a previledge. Have a car in Europe even today is NOT a given as it is in America.

    It is time for Americans to understand and accept teh differences between the two markets. Stop looking at European Ford and claiming that they are better than our domestic products without considering the major price difference.
    In all Honesty the European car buyer IS a bit more savvy than the American counterpart and they do demand more from their cars. Hell, for that matter Americans have always expected more out of European branded car than a doemstic.
    Euro Fords are designed to serve as more of an investment to its owner than their doemstic counterparts(Kinda like foreign cars in America).

    The average Joe in the USA would be insulted at the idea of a $35,000 Accord competitor at their local Ford dealer. That is not how we buy cars in the USA. $35,000 is the price of an upmarket brand not a Ford.

  • avatar

    When the new Mondeo was introduced a Ford Europe exec told CAR that, “To sell it in the U.S., we’d have to de-content it so much we could probably sell it as a cave.”

    I like the Mondeo and the Euro Focus, but the dismal reliability of the U.S.-spec version of the previous Focus (and details like its godawful seats) leave me skeptical that the European-market products would be game-changers for Ford in the U.S.

    I would like the see the advanced common rail turbodiesels here, though. The four-cylinder petrol Accord and Camry have less real-world grunt, and I’d be surprised if you routinely got better than 22-23 mpg in mixed driving (sure, you could get 30 mpg on a steady, legal-speed highway trip with cruise control, but that’s not the same thing).

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Stop looking at European Ford and claiming that they are better than our domestic products without considering the major price difference. In all Honesty the European car buyer IS a bit more savvy than the American counterpart and they do demand more from their cars.

    A lot of it isn’t a matter of savvy, but of who is paying for the car. Many cars sold in Europe in this class are company cars. Unlike the US, where most of us have to buy or lease cars on our own, cars in Europe of this sort are frequently perks provided to middle managers, as tax treatment favors driving fleet vehicles over receiving marginally higher compensation that would allow one to buy the vehicle for himself.

    I’d say that in this equation, Americans are the more demanding of consumers. Americans drive more and demand higher reliability. Aside from tariffs and distribution barriers, one reason that Toyota, etc. have not quite gained the traction that they have in the US is because reliability is not as critical to European consumers, which reduces their competitive advantage in those markets. Europeans can afford to prioritize driving dynamics over reliability when they’re often not paying for it.

  • avatar
    pete

    Even if they brought this to the US how would Ford overcome the impression held by many consumers about the brand – they are unreliable!

    I have two Fords in my past – both had severe transmission failures at around 80k miles. Fix that with your 5 star Euro box for over $30k!

  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    I’m getting God damn sick of reading these Euro Ford reviews…it’s like “hey, you’d love it but alas you can’t have it.” Some Domestic supporters may point to these Fords as proof of Ford’s abilities, but I tend to hate Ford just that much more.

  • avatar
    Thomas Minzenmay

    Well, even IF Ford decided to bring the Mondeo to the US, here is how it would probably turn out:

    First of all, it would be considered an “experiment”, so instead of building it in the States, they’d import it. However, European prices are higher than US prices, so the bean-counters would have the US-Mondeo to be decontented in order to minimize the loss (that’s the spirit).

    The whole process would also take lots of time (I’d say 3 years minimum), so when the US-spec Mondeo would finally hit the shores, it would be the stripped version of an already outdated car that would probably still be offered at too high a price point. So it would fail miserably and all the bean counters would say: “See, I told you, Americans just don’t want European cars.”

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    A few words on prices.

    Of course, the Mondeo at Euro 17,800 looks extremely expensive at the current exchange rate, which would mean US$ 26k. But quite honestly, given the wide exchange-rate swings of the past few years, I think this way of looking at it is a duck that doesn’t fly.

    A more sensible approach to the question of whether the Mondeo is marketable in the U.S. would take purchasing power parity into account. A simple (albeit slightly silly) metric is the Economist’s Big Mac Index, according to which the Euro is about 30% overvalued.

    From that perspective, we have a price of around 19k US $, for an advanced car with ABS, ESP, active headrests, 7 airbags, ISOFIX rear seats, Brake Assist, Cruise Control, remote locking, 16″ aluminum wheels, fog lights, heat-filter windows, rain sensors, automatic lights, leather steering wheel, iPod-ready Sony audio.

    So really, I can’t agree with all this talk about the Mondeo being too sophisticated and expensive for the U.S. market.

  • avatar
    Thomas Minzenmay

    Of course, the Mondeo at Euro 17,800 looks extremely expensive at the current

    Actually, this sounds extremely cheap. I looked at the prices and the official document said that the Ghia starts at €25.775

    Also, I don’t think that the US-Dollar will gain in value compared to the Euro any time soon. Most experts rather predict another massive drop. The only thing keeping the Dollar afloat is the fact that lots of countries (especially China) mostly use Dollars as reserve currency. But this won’t save it forever.

    Anyway, If Ford wants to sell the Mondeo in the States at a profit, they will have to build it there (IMHO).

  • avatar
    skor

    Even @ $25K, a US Mondeo would flop.

    1) The kind of people who buy Fords in the USA, don’t care about European styling, handling, or quality. These are people who’d be happy with a motorized Conestoga wagon.

    2) US buyers who appreciate Euro-cars will never buy a Ford. Ever. At any price. The Ford oval appears to them as skull and crossbones — a warning to stay as far away as possible.

    3) Ford wants out of manufacturing in the US and Canada — despite what jet-boy says publicly.

    In the near future, Ford NA will offer a few truck models manufactured locally for the ever dwindling Redneck/NASCAR/Half-wit demographic. Their US car offerings will be cheap-ass strippers made in Mexico/Brazil/China for “sub-prime” US buyers.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Everybody is right that there’s no way you could sell it as a Ford, but you COULD sell it as a Mercury (or maybe even a Lincoln). But they won’t, because the Milan and the LKXZSHJKBNBNUI (whatever the Lincoln version of the Fusion is; I forget which three letters it uses and I ain’t going to go look it up) are decent cars and sell fairly well and are probably much more profitable than importing these.

    In any case, that 10.6 second 0-60 time would be unacceptable in a Mercury or Lincoln stateside; you would need a more powerful engine. To put it in perspective, that’s about how fast a Toyota Prius is. Fast enough in the real world, but unacceptable in an upmarket US-spec car.

  • avatar
    NetGenHoon

    Two five-star Ford reviews back-to-back… What is that I hear about anti-domestic bias?

  • avatar

    I’m not sure why people are expecting this vehicle to edge into BMW territory. On the mainland the Mondeo starts at €22k. The 320d starts at €33k and the 520d at €38k.

    The problem would be selling it. As a Mercury they would be lucky to move 4k per month. As a Ford there is no way it would be cheaper than the Mazda6 assembled by third-world labor that they are peddling now.

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    “As a Ford there is no way it would be cheaper than the Mazda6 assembled by third-world labor”

    The 6 is built in Flat Rock, Michigan right now.

  • avatar

    NetGenHoon: but is the Mondeo really a domestic car?

    Oh, and if everyone hasn’t googled it already, the Mondeo Titanium is a much cleaner/sharper looking interior than the Ghia.

  • avatar
    red dawg

    Even if Ford found a way to bring Euro spec vehicles here they would have to seriously decontent them and cheapen the interiors to make the price point acceptable to US consumers. And cheap interiors are ONE of MANY resasons Ford is losing customers faster than the Titanic sank !!!!!!!!! That, plus every vehicle made by Ford has Japanese and European compitition that is better in countless ways(espically quality, reliability and resale value). As i have said in other posts, Ford WILL not maybe but WILL be in bankruptcy court on or before 12-31-08. The ship is SINKING and sinking FAST !!!! Man the life boats now !!!!!!!
    P.S: Since the captain is supposed to go down with his ship, i wonder if Mr. Mullaly will go down with the Ford ship as it continues to sink????

  • avatar
    Thomas Minzenmay

    @red dawg:
    I’ll take that bet. Seriously, the sale of Land Rover/Jaguar will infuse enough money to survive this year. On top of that, the new owner will be dependent on Ford parts for the foreseeable future, which will get them even more money. And after that, Volvo will be next to go.

    Of course, selling parts of your company won’t save you forever, but at this point, Ford is still in a position where they can sell, so it’ll get them to live for a couple more years. And maybe that’s enough time to get the company healthy again – sorry, I guess that was me dreaming…

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    “As a Ford there is no way it would be cheaper than the Mazda6 assembled by third-world labor”

    The 6 is built in Flat Rock, Michigan right now.

    Things are quite bad in Michigan but they aren’t at third world status yet, or are things worse than I realize.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    It sounds like Ford USA should be able to introduce the next generation Taurus in no time flat …. the design is already done!

    One cannot simply use currency conversion rates to say that the Mondeo would cost >$30k in the US because of it’s Euro market price. Check out the price of Civics and Corollas on the UK websites vs. the US websites for Honda and Toyota and you will discover that such reasoning simply doesn’t hold water.

    “Meanwhile, Ford attributes the failure of the 500 to its “European styling” and its success with the Mustang to its American retro look.”

    Then Ford needs to go back and study it’s own history books. For almost a decade the Ford Taurus was the best selling car in the US and the original Ford Taurus looked a whole lot like an Audi 5000 and nothing like any other American car of it’s day. The 1996 All-Ovals redesign which Ford insiders thought was going to go on to super stardom based on it’s “radical” and “American” design was a huge flop because it lost useability and gained quirky styling. Rear seat entry got worse, trunk room got worse and visibility got worse all in the name of “style”. That redesign took the Taurus from king of the hill to chump in no time flat. Now if only someone would early-retire the puff-piece people like J. May there might be hope for Ford.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    quote:” I’d say that in this equation, Americans are the more demanding of consumers. Americans drive more and demand higher reliability. Aside from tariffs and distribution barriers, one reason that Toyota, etc. have not quite gained the traction that they have in the US is because reliability is not as critical to European consumers, which reduces their competitive advantage in those markets. Europeans can afford to prioritize driving dynamics over reliability when they’re often not paying for it.”

    Toyota gained success in the US because the big3 have made crap cars the past 20-30 years, and Toyota was there at the right time with the right products. In Europe local manufacturers have always been strong with strong products, that is why Toyota gains market share there more slowly. Germans and northern Europeans are very quality sensitive. German buyers are in horror and confused when the statistics show that Lexus and Toyota are more reliable than their old and respected manufacturers that have always enjoyed in the past the uber-quality image in their local market.

    Lets not forget that the latest Camry and Accord are considerably bigger than the new Mondeo. US buyer wants leather, auto box, 6cyl engine and full equipment list when a car of this class costs $30k+. Consumer tastes are very different in US and Europe. Here are all the commentators and authors auto enthusiasts, who have quite different wievs on cars than the average US buyer. Your opinion is drop in the ocean, only marginal part of the buying public shares your views.

    And this diesel hype is getting boring. When you drive it very smoothly you will get the factory mpg numbers, if you drive more enthusiastically you will get very different numbers. Same thing with hybrids, when a car is designed to be economical, it needs to be driven economically to achieve the wanted results. Also diesel lovers always like to quote their highway numbers, in-city commuting with stop-and-go traffic is a whole other story! But that is rearly mentioned.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    How does NA Ford to plan increase the quality and reliability of their products, if it would drive up the prices of the cars? How can they drive up prices in a nation, where 20$ manufacturing jobs are replaced by 9$ service jobs, meaning peoples savings have withered . On the other hand I see the pattern of cheapness in every US business.Meaning they are trying to save money on everything- whether hollowing threads in firestone or using hard plastics on dash. If we go to the food industry we see the same pattern. For God`s sake, I have never seen parents marching the streets and demanding with posters in their hands worse foods. Haven`t heard them saying-` please, give our children artificially flavored Hershey`s syrup, because we are tired of the natural one. Please give us artificially strawberry flavored Tweezers, because we hate natural ones. Thank you for spraying so many chemicals on peanut farms, so now our children can have allergies, and they never get bored.Thank you that our kids now buying sweets , are unable to buy naturally flavored candies. Thank you for injecting growth hormones in cows, so our kids can enjoy allergies and obesity`. Would those companies be bleeding cash if used natural ingredients? Would Ford be losing money if door handles were replaced by chromed ones instead of plastic? Would Chrysler be out of profits if they spent bit more time on aligning panels? I guess no. So my belief is that the answer lies in corporate greed. And mondeo is good, – a good german engineered sedan using japanese platform ( stamped on japanese industrial benches)and vapoury illussion that it has something to do with USA. Keep believing….

  • avatar
    red dawg

    jthorner,
    The Ford 500 was a sales flop not because of “european” styling or as Ford wants one to believe, lack of name recognition by the public (Hell, the 500 name goes farther back in Ford history than Taurus does!!!!!!. Galaxy 500, Fairlane 500) rather the 500 was a flop because of the simple fact it is a FORD !!!! Ford managed to sell fewer of the car in Sept. ’07 as a Tuarus then they did in Sept. ’06 as the 500. Both cars have the same basic body but with minor styling differences. Vehicle name had LITTLE to NO impact on sales, the Ford name and Brand was it’s kiss of sales death and rotting on the company vine !!!!!!! And it’s sister car the Montego/ Sable hasn’t done any better in terms of sales with it’s name and styling changes. I think Ford needs to give up on the sedan market and just do what it does BEST, build trucks.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @ Martin Schwoerer
    A few words on prices from me:

    The Mondeo was always Ford’s Passat fighter in Europe. That’s it’s main rival, many people cross-shop just those two.
    Volkswagen can offer a Passat with the 2.0 TFSI engine in the USA and make money.
    Comparable to the Mondeo would be the 2.0 TDI DPF Passat, which is actually cheaper than the 2.0 TFSI gasser.
    Ford dealers in Europe are more likely to give a healthy discount to move some metal.

    Conclusion: A European-made Mondeo could undercut a Passat by maybe $2K and still make Ford money. Would that be enough?

  • avatar
    SAAB95JD

    I also believe that if Ford would bring these CLEARLY higher quality vehicles here they would succeed!

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Mirko Reinhardt :
    Volkswagen can offer a Passat with the 2.0 TFSI engine in the USA and make money.

    I hear that they have lost money on just about every Passat sent over, and as a hedge against further currency fluctuations a VW factory is planned for the Carolinas.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Cost aside, this car with the upcoming Mazda 2.3 DFI engine would be an intriguing prospect…

  • avatar

    jthorner : Then Ford needs to go back and study it’s own history books. For almost a decade the Ford Taurus was the best selling car in the US and the original Ford Taurus looked a whole lot like an Audi 5000 and nothing like any other American car of it’s day.

    I disagree (to a great extent) because the Taurus looks MUCH more like the 1982 Ford Sierra…a car that was way sleeker than its 1982 Audi counterpart.

    Ford NA did a good job looking at Ford Europe back in the early 1980s. And that’s no lie, that is Ford’s history.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Germans and northern Europeans are very quality sensitive.

    “Quality” and “reliability” are not quite the same thing.

    Yes, European cars often exude high “quality” — they are well stitched together and they feel good when you drive them. But they lag the Japanese in “reliability,” because they break more.

    Europeans drive less than Americans do, so the problems suffered as mileage increases happen later in a car’s life in Europe. Because of better mass transit, the average European suffers less inconvenience when the car breaks. And if it’s a company car, then the driver doesn’t have to worry much about it. So reliability doesn’t have to be as important in Europe, and generally speaking, consumers are less sensitive to it.

    Conclusion: A European-made Mondeo could undercut a Passat by maybe $2K and still make Ford money. Would that be enough?

    Probably not. For one, Ford has usually failed with its Euro imports, so there is no reason to believe that this would be an exception.

    For another, it’s a tradeoff that works for VW but not for Ford. Overall, American car prices are lower than European prices, the manufacturers have to accept lower margins on their US sales. If Ford is running its European plants at reasonable capacity, why would funnel production to selling cars in the US at lower (or negative) margins, particularly when Americans won’t buy them, anyway? It makes far more sense to sell Mondeos in Europe at high prices than to let them languish on American lots with substantially lower sales prices.

    Ford builds Fusions in Mexico for Americans, selling them at the lower prices that Americans are willing to pay, whereas VW sells a few European-built Passats in the US because its US sales volumes are too low to justify building them in Mexico.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Sajeev, while you disagree with me on a detail of the 1986 Taurus’ design influences the point is the same. American consumers will buy “European” styled cars if the product is right. The notion that “Americans” don’t like “European” style cars is disproven by the facts.

    For those who like pictures:

    1982 Ford Sierra (never sold in the US):
    http://www.fordsierranet.com.ar/Fotos/propagandaFordSierraCosworth4x4.jpg

    Mid 1980s Audi 100 aka 4000 aka 5000:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/04/Audi_100_III_silver_vl.jpg/800px-Audi_100_III_silver_vl.jpg

    First generation Taurus:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/38/89-91_Ford_Taurus.jpg/800px-89-91_Ford_Taurus.jpg

    And for comparison, a 1986 Buick:
    http://qualitytireandwheel.com/86buick.jpg

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    I appreciate the frank exchange of ideas here. TTAC readers / (commenters) rule!

    On pricing, please note I quoted net prices, i.e. manufacturers list price minus V.A.T. which tends to be around 20% in Europe. And the low ones I name are not far-fetched, I would say. Yesterday’s edition of Germany’s Autobild quotes a gross-Austria price of Euro 18,670.00 for a Mondeo, albeit cheaper Trend package instead of Ghia. But really, this is sensational value for money. Boringly, I have to repeat myself and say nothing from Japan or Korea comes close.

    On the topic of 0-60, there is a 220 HP model on offer which I think gets under the 9 sec mark. But quite honestly, I think 0-60 is not important unless you drive a hack in NYC. What you need in everyday circumstances is strong 40-75 and this is where turbodiesels accel / excel.

    On Ford’s bad experiences with European imports: history is bunk. This car has great merit that speaks for itself. Surely, you guys are not saying that the American market does not need or won’t accept really good cars? Even if they have excellent value for money? Am I really supposed to believe that China needs (for example) the S-Max, but that there is no market for it in the U.S.?

    The implication — that the U.S. is an unsophisticated market — is mind-boggling. And it doesn’t wash, either. Americans are sticklers for Japanese quality but also love European sophistication. The Mondeo has lots of both. The problem lies in Detroit.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The implication — that the U.S. is an unsophisticated market — is mind-boggling.

    That isn’t the implication at all. The message here is that Americans demand reliability and a low price.

    Given that Americans are more car-dependent, drive more, and more likely to pay for the car out of their own pockets, it makes a lot of sense for most Americans to see reliability and cost as virtues.

    The most direct US equivalent is the Fusion. A 2.3 liter, automatic transmission Fusion with mid-line trim has an MSRP of about $20k. A 2.3 liter Mondeo with an automatic is, including taxes, about $39k in the UK. Before tax, that’s probably about $32k.

    Is a Mondeo worth another $12k for a suburban American commuter who needs to haul kids and groceries? Probably not. Particularly when that commuter has to pay for the car himself or herself (not many company cars here), and when you can buy a 4-cylinder Accord or Camry — the benchmarks for this segment — for something similar.

    The answer for Ford is simple: it needs to improve the Fusion. It may be too soon to tell, but Ford seems to have found a formula that has produced a car with reliability that is similar to that of the Accord and Camry, along with driving characteristics and a price point that are suited to the US market. The next step is to elevate the Fusion from decent to a class-leader, so that the public takes notice.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    Unfortunately, Ford’s track record with tweaking the Mondeo for other markets has not been good. Ford Contour, anyone? That car was a disaster both from a design and an ownership proposition. And let’s not forget the Jaguar X Type.
    No doubt, Ford, like the other 1.8, has talented designers. But the layers of bean-counting managers can usually be certain to quash any originality or brilliance from the best designs long before production begins.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    actually one of the best markets to base a Car value if isn’t sold in the US is New Zealand. It has no import tariffs and the market is quite small 77k new cars sold.

    The mondeo 2.3 auto (sorry no diesel) would be about US$29300 which includes the shipping from Europe

    the australian XR5 has the 2.5 5cyl with a six speed would cost US$36145 which again including shipping from europe,and a bit for tariffs which I think are in the 5 – 10% range

    so all you doubting Thomases can go jump in the lake. Superior.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    I remember when they brought the german built 94` Mondeo to the states they watered it down. sripped it off the Ghia version and all the fancy options. I wonder how much striptease they would do if bringing this gen mondeo ashore. All the time you talk about bringing from Europe this car, that car. How about rolling up your sleeves and building some remarkable car yourself. can you build here in America Passat competitor using US engineers? can you? really? Are you sure? So you really think you could? Like really really? I wonder how much profits you could keep if all the added value and highly skilled labour is done abroad.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    actually one of the best markets to base a Car value if isn’t sold in the US is New Zealand…The mondeo 2.3 auto (sorry no diesel) would be about US$29300 which includes the shipping from Europe…so all you doubting Thomases can go jump in the lake. Superior.

    I’m trying to imagine this dialog at the Ford dealer:
    __________

    Customer: Why does this Mon-dee-oh cost ten grand more than this Fusion? Man, it’s about six grand more than this Taurus over here, and it’s smaller!!

    Sales dude: Well, it’s made in Europe, for Europeans.

    Customer: I’ve heard of Europe before. Is that the place where a cup of coffee costs eight bucks?

    Sales dude: Well, the Kiwis pay about the same thing for this car, and everybody pays attention to them.

    Customer: I thought a kiwi was a fruit…Hey, you’re not calling me a fruit, are you?

    Sales dude: No, of course not. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

    Customer: Well, I can buy an Accord, Jetta and a whole bunch of other cars for less than this Mondeo thing. Come on, honey, we’re going to the Honda dealer.
    __________

    If you think that this is far-fetched, this is pretty much what happened when Ford tried to sell Sierras badged as Merkur XR4ti’s in the US. When Americans want $30k European cars, they don’t go to Ford dealers to buy them.

  • avatar
    ktm

    pch101 brought up great examples of Ford’s European products they brought over in the ’80s that failed miserably. While I personally loved the Merkur XR4Ti (I lived in Germany in the 1980s, Mainz to be exact, and saw many a Sierra on the road), I rarely saw them on the road when I returned to the US for college. As an aside, I **loved** the old Ford Capri’s that dotted the German landscape. They were like old American Muscle cars to the US.

    I, like other commentators, would love Ford to bring the Mondeo over, but I also recognize pch101′s salient points. I offer up one more modern example of a European import gone sour: Volkswagen’s Phaeton. If a European car company can not successfully import a premium model to the US, it is logical to conclude that Ford would be similarly unsuccessful importing a premium model. It all boils down to the fact that the US consumer will not pay that kind of money for a brand they believe is not a premium manufacturer.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    I, like other commentators, would love Ford to bring the Mondeo over, but…

    thanks to the DTs , I actually see why you guys get cheaparse stripped out vehicles like the fusion and old foci (even Mexicans get the euro foci) and the live axle mustang. Milquetoast toyatas zzzzz and somnambulistic accords that took up where buick and olds left off. Well done on your trucks though. You make excellent lock up boxes for them.

    At least car buyers of the 70s and 80s were open minded enough to consider japanese cars, a nation who they had been in a world war against.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Here in the States, Ford has to sell its cars at a lower price point than, say, Toyota for a few different reasons, including the strength of the brand, reputation for reliability, and financial means of its customers. If Ford were to raise the price of a smaller car, this would push it up into the price range of one of its larger cars, with the potential of driving the price-sensitive shoppers (which there are no shortage of) into a competitor’s showroom.

    The weekend newspaper’s auto sales circular today has base 2.3/automatic Fusions and Milans advertised for about $16k, well off the $20k MSRP and $2.5k less than a similarly equipped Camry. The 2008 C170-based Ford Focus is advertised at $12k because no one’s willing to pay much money for a small Ford, whereas the C1 based Mazda3 starts at $14k+.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Conventional thinking will get us all – including Ford – nowhere.

    Previous euro models like the Merkur failed because there was very little marketing support and Lincoln-Mercury dealers had no idea what they were selling. It was easier to just keep hustling full-sized luxo-barges with vinyl roofs.

    The current euro Mondeo could work in the U.S. – but both consumers and dealers will have to be properly educated and solid marketing support has to follow.

    I like the idea of the Mondeo coming in as a Mercury. It would work a lot better for Lincoln-Mercury dealers than the Lincoln MKZ – every example of which I personally have seen on the road has had a driver over the age of 65 at the wheel.

    Now, having said all that, based on recent remarks from Alan Mulally, I don’t expect to see the Mondeo in the U.S. But I do expect the next generation of domestic Fords to be a lot better. I just hope the company has time to get it done.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    On bringing the Mondeo over: that may be some people’s wish, but it sure ain’t mine.

    My point is different: Ford has the ability to make a sophisticated, stylish, reliable sedan. An intelligent company is all about sharing knowledge. As a matter of fact, making sure knowledge is shared and implemented is what Jack Welch said was his main job. But it seems that Ford is not intelligent enough in this respect.

    My opinion is that Detroit is sufferering from a chronic and possibly fatal case of the wasn’t-developed-here syndrome.

    On pricing: this discussion is going in circles. I provide evidence that Ford/Europe is able to undercut Japan and Korea in selected national markets, and that net prices are extremely competetive. And then somebody says “yeah, but the Mondeo lists for X in the U.K./Denmark/Uganda,and that is around US$35k, so the car must be a joke”. We are using incompatible data sets.

    On the Mondeo being too sophisticated (pace: European) for the U.S.: I’ve been scratching my head at these arguments, and quite honestly, I still don’t get it. The Mondeo is basically a more-spacious, slightly-better-riding- and-handling, more-characterful version of the new Mazda 6. Is the Mazda somehow too good for the U.S.? Are you saying that Mazda would be better advised to re-activate the 626 for the American market?

    Really guys, to me this sounds like a “trust Detroit, it knows what it’s doing” song. And it flies in the face of the profitability of Ford/Europe, and the inability of Ford/US to make money with the Taurus and its kin.

  • avatar

    @jthorner:

    1: That’s not an ’82 Sierra; judging from the headlights and grille, it’s a post-facelift model from later in the 80s. (The ’82 didn’t *have* a grille.)

    2: “Audi 100 aka 4000 aka 5000″ — no, it was the 80 that was aka the 4000. The 100 was just the 5000 over there.

    3: I’m with you, Sajeev is wrong: The original Taurus looks more like the A100 than like the Sierra (especially the original grill-less ’82 model).

    4: Meanwhile, and for many more years to come, GM products keept looking exactly like they always had since the 1960s….

  • avatar
    stuntnun

    i have a 2005 mazda 6 hatch back and its fun to drive for FWD -i dont believe it be any problem for it to be made in the usa–ford getting a piece of mazda has been a good investment, the mazda 6 platform is in alot of cars and suvs fomoco makes and its japanese designed technology .. was this car designed as the new mazda 6 and ford just releasing this version in europe?(kinda looks like the redesigned mazda-6)if not i bet it will make it here by 2010, –i wonder if ford will ever slap its name on the rx-8 or miata?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    And then somebody says “yeah, but the Mondeo lists for X in the U.K./Denmark/Uganda,and that is around US$35k, so the car must be a joke”. We are using incompatible data sets.

    Run this situation through a TTAC-style analysis, and the problems are clear: The brand isn’t up to the job and the price point is wrong.

    This website devotes a lot of effort attempting to educate its readership to the importance of branding. Branding is a factor here — the American consumer does not associate the blue oval with desirable European cars that are worth a premium. When Americans think of European sport sedans, they run to the guys with the propeller, three-pointed star, and less often, the four interlocking rings, not to Dearborn. Aside from Volvo, Ford has no brands that can appeal to this market in the US.

    The only four-cylinder mainstream cars sold in the US with sticker prices in the $30k range come from SAAB, Audi, Mitsubishi and Subaru. The first two bolt on turbos to those four-bangers; the latter two are limited to high-performance variants sold in low volumes. The US version of the Ford brand can’t play in this sandbox — none of the brands have the cachet or reputation to pull it off.

    TTAC often observes (correctly) that Detroit frequently errs by allowing the few decent ideas that it gets to ultimately fail because it fails to evolve them. Here, Ford has the Fusion; if Alan Mulally follows TTAC’s advice, then he would fixate and focus (not Focus) on making the next Fusion better than the last, while capitalizing on its strengths.

    And it’s a basic question of economics: There is no good reason for Ford to sell a car in the US at a $10,000 discount when it can sell the same vehicle in Europe for a lot more money. This would be a bit like trading dimes for nickels, particularly when it has a Fusion that is worth improving.

  • avatar
    davey49

    I guess the big question is whether or not the Mondeo is any better than the Fusion or is this just a matter of the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
    I suspect the next model redesign that all mid size Fords will be on the same platform.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    So if the Ford brand is ruined because of 30 years of ummm so so cars, how did Mercedes Benz come back after WW2 or Toyota, Honda etc get started? because they produced cars that people liked. How did Jaguar fail? Not because the brand was bad – but because the PRODUCT was not so hot you don’t drive a brand, you drive a car.

    Audi was mentioned, this should be Fords target to lift it out of the doldrums of red ink good looking car that felt well engineered and had a nice interior that drove well and didn’t break – having a pleasant dealers would be nice too.

    A ttac analysis? Is that slang for putting the boot in in an amusing way?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    So if the Ford brand is ruined because of 30 years of ummm so so cars, how did Mercedes Benz come back after WW2 or Toyota, Honda etc get started?

    Daimler started making cars in the US in 1888. To this day, it is only a niche player in the US market. 120 years later, and it still has only 2% market share in the US.

    Toyota entered the US market in 1957. It took Toyota 32 years after that to establish the Lexus brand.

    Honda entered the US market in 1969. It took Honda 17 years to establish the Acura brand. And has been reported here, their results with this have been mixed.

    Ford does not have 120 years, 32 years or even 17 years to reinvent its brands, it must do much more, much sooner. Mercury and Lincoln have too much taint to be used for reinvented overnight as a seller of Euro-style cars at near-luxury price points. Ford is a mainstream brand, and has little place in its lineup for a costly sedan when the brand lacks the cachet needed to support the price, and when it has a very similar sedan (Fusion) already in its lineup.

    If another example of branding constraints is needed, consider the Lincoln LS. If you squinted just right, it almost looked like a 5-series BMW. Which was fine, except that most people who consider BMW’s buy BMW’s (or Mercedes, Lexus, etc.), and almost certainly not Lincolns. So that was a non-starter.

    Ford has to work within these constraints. And I see absolutely nothing wrong with improving the Fusion. It generates respectable sales, and has the potential to morph into a bona fide competitor. The last thing Ford needs is an overseas distraction that keeps them from fulfilling the Fusion’s promise, when the potential is within reach.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Phil/Pch101:

    I haven’t driven the Fusion, so joining in on a comparison between the Mondeo and the Fusion is beyond my remit.

    But pray tell: is the Fusion desirable? Is it anything near sexy? Is it best-in-class? Has anybody (of repute) said it is better than a Mercedes, at Accord prices?

    That is what a mid-size sedan has to be, if it is going to be a winner. Tinkering with the Fusion sounds half-way to me.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    But Martin, halfway is apparently all the brand and the American Buyer require so……

  • avatar
    Pch101

    But pray tell: is the Fusion desirable? Is it anything near sexy? Is it best-in-class? Has anybody (of repute) said it is better than a Mercedes, at Accord prices?

    The implication of this is that the Mondeo is priced similarly to the Accord. However, in the US, it isn’t.

    For what a Briton pays (before tax) for a 2.3 liter four-cylinder Mondeo with a 2.3 liter four-cylinder motor, an American can buy a six-cylinder Accord with best-in-class reliability and a 0-60 time about four seconds quicker than the Mondeo.

    Or in the alternative, an American can buy a four-cylinder Accord for about $7k less than the four-cylinder Mondeo, and it will still beat the Mondeo off the line.

    Could Ford attempt to sell the Mondeo for the same price as the comparable Accord? Sure, but then, why would it deliberately choose to lose money? It’s already losing enough cash by mistake, there’s no point in making a conscious effort to lose more of it.

    Is the Mondeo better than the Fusion? I’m guessing that it probably is. But is it $7-10k better? For most people, it probably isn’t.

    Perhaps the car most comparable to the 2.3 liter Mondeo being sold today in the US is the Acura TSX, which is a rebadged Euro-market Honda Accord with the 2.4 liter engine. The TSX comes fully equipped for under $30k and despite the association with Honda, sells in low volumes. If Honda isn’t able to sell a lot of TSX’s, I can’t imagine that a brand-challenged company like Ford could reinvent itself enough to fare any better.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    By the way I understand why ford is afraid of bringing mondeo to the States. US is in front of the biggest depression ever since 1929. The symptoms of the last `seconds` before total market crash are high surge of indexes and then Fluctuation ( up and down ). This what exactly is happening now at Dow jones and Nasdaq. When Bush last week signed increasing the ` ceiling` for national debt( simply speaking authorizing the cash printing machine to go on) to staggering 9.8 trillion. Subprime crisis is only the beginning of the `big party`. So what i was trying to say, is that Ford realizes that US consumer will be unable to buy a pricey vehicle, especially when jobs get transfered to no-brainer service 9 bucks industries. Ok, don`t listen to me or to that `little insignificant `fringe` politician` called Ron Paul. What do we know?….

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Phil — thanks for the repeated interesting contributions to the discussion.

    But I have to ask: which data are you using? EU list prices multiplied by US$?

    I have provided evidence that the Mondeo is priced well within the Camry/Accord/Vectra/Sonata cohort. Additionally, I have used quite simple reasoning to argue that according to purchasing price parity, the Mondeo — if built in the Dollar zone — should be competitive. And you just come back and say the Mondeo is too darn expensive. I don’t get it.

    Jurisb: ach, the Depression. C’mon, Helicopter Ben won’t let that happen. The monoliners will be bailed out (with taxpayer money). But tell me: what is your opinion on the Mondeo’s exterior and interior? I am unsure about the latter.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I have provided evidence that the Mondeo is priced well within the Camry/Accord/Vectra/Sonata cohort.

    It is in Europe, where imports are subject to tariffs. It wouldn’t be in the US.

    In any case, I think that it needs to be accepted that US tastes and needs differ from those of Europeans.

    Europeans like nimble, versatile cars with fuel economy that suits their fuel tax and engine displacement taxes, hence the prevalence of hatchbacks and smaller cars with smaller engines.

    Americans prioritize reliability, passenger space, low-end torque and are a bit more skewed toward ride quality over handling, and they associate hatchbacks with cheap student transportation. Fuel taxes are low, and registration fees tend to be ad valorem (based on value), not fuel consumption or engine size. As a result, Americans tend to prefer sedans with motors large enough to give them the low-end torque that they want, matched to automatic transmissions, sold by brands that they associate with reliability. Ford is not one of these brands.

    And there are different styling preferences as well. Consumer tastes differ between the markets, that’s just how it is. From a market standpoint, one is not better than the other, just different.

    I quite like the Euro Fords myself, and am a bit crestfallen that they can’t succeed here, but past efforts to sell them have all failed. But enthusiasts are a tiny minority of the car buying public, and you can’t play primarily to our sentiments to sell mainstream mid-priced cars.

  • avatar
    nikita

    pch101

    I think your points have nailed it. Even if Ford brought/built the car here, it wouldnt have a 140hp diesel and six-speed manual that many on this list would want, but a big V-6 and automatic, just like the volume-selling US Camcords. In the end, I would not buy one.

    I was the proud owner of a 1980 Fiesta, my first new car. Except for the 1600cc engine, it was not very well adapted to the US market and was far outsold by more expensive and less reliable VW Rabbits, not to mention the also more expensive, but more reliable Civic. Later tries also failed, Merkur, Contour/”Mistake”, Australian Capri, and maybe others I have forgotten.

  • avatar
    wildcmc

    I just found out about this link, and hope to god. it is true!!!
    http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/CW/20070129/FREE/70129001

    and this one
    http://www.autoblog.com/2007/01/29/ford-may-bring-mondeo-s-max-to-u-s/

  • avatar
    jthorner

    “The implication of this is that the Mondeo is priced similarly to the Accord. However, in the US, it isn’t.”

    I will say again that you cannot simply translate European prices by way of a currency calculator into US prices. It simply isn’t that simple.

    Forget about cars for a moment. If you did that math using the price of a Big Mac in Europe you would notice that a Big Mac sells for about 3.10 Euros. At present exchange rates that implies a US$4.57 price for a Big Mac (not the meal, just the sandwich). But in fact a Big Mac in the US sells for between $3.00 and $3.50.

    Professional economists differentiate between purchasing power currency comparisons and financial market currency conversions. Arm chair analysts often miss this important distinction. PCH101 is making this mistake.

    In order to make the argument that a Mondeo would be too costly to be competitive if made and sold in the US you have to look at the purchasing power equivalency, not the financial markets exchange rate. The only time the exchange rate argument is relevant is when the question of importing a European vehicle into the US is on the table.

    Even with the importation question there are fixed vs. variable cost questions to consider. If Ford Europe has excess capacity to make more Mondeos in existing factories with existing tooling and minimal extra payroll then it might well make sense to build some for the US market. A factory running at 99% of 3 shift capacity is vastly more productive than is one running at any fraction thereof.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Thank you, jthorner — that was exactly the point I have been trying to make.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Professional economists differentiate between purchasing power currency comparisons and financial market currency conversions. Arm chair analysts often miss this important distinction. PCH101 is making this mistake.

    Er, no I’m not. PPP is used as a measure of relative purchasing power, i.e. the ability of consumers in Country X to buy goods in comparison to consumers in Country Y.

    PPP is not a measure if what a consumer is willing to pay for a product, just his ability to pay for it. In this context, you are confusing the price of a Big Mac with demand for a Big Mac. Demand for a Big Mac (or a car or anything else) is not just a function of its price.

    This website has covered the Ford branding problem enough for all of us to know that it carries more taint in the US than it does in Europe, which has a corrosive effect on its US pricing of passenger cars. Americans may have more buying power, as measured by per capita PPP, but they won’t use it to buy $30,000 sedans from Ford when there are cheaper alternatives that they prefer.

    As for PPP in the context of production costs, you’ve managed to jumble up your concepts. The Economist uses the “Big Mac Index” as an illustrator of PPP because most of a given country’s Big Mac production utilizes commodities sourced from its host country, so it is possible to use it as a representative basket of cost differences. If Big Macs were exported, then it would not be a useful measure of PPP for those in the countries that import them.

    So you can’t use PPP to defend your argument. All things being equal, Ford’s costs of building a car in Germany are the same, no matter who buys it. The issues at that point are the marginal costs of exporting it (transportation, complying with the importing country’s regulations, tariffs, etc.) and what consumers in that other country are willing to pay for it.

    I think we’ve clearly established that Americans just won’t pay the same amount of euros for a mid-sized mass market sedan as would a European — cars are much cheaper in the US, even before tax — so Ford would lose margin on every US sale. If they lose too much margin, they won’t earn money at all on those US sales.

    (Americans would pay more for a premium sedan from a premium automaker, but Ford is considered to be anything but a premium automaker in the US.)

    The only way to compensate for local costs differences would be to build the Mondeo in a lower-cost labor market such as Mexico, as the author suggests. But again, that doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone in the US would want to buy a Mexican-made Mondeo.

    If Ford Europe has excess capacity to make more Mondeos in existing factories with existing tooling and minimal extra payroll then it might well make sense to build some for the US market.

    If Ford has an abundance of extra capacity, then that’s not an opportunity, but signs of a management problem. If a company is competently run, it shouldn’t have a lot of unused factory capacity.

    This concept you’ve defended here is precisely what has driven Detroit into the ground. Instead of building vehicles with the goal of stimulating and fulfilling demand, Detroit built vehicles to amortize fixed costs over more units, which increased their margins on paper by dumping unwanted product onto the market. That is what produces a dependency on fleet sales and encourages a loss of customer focus.

    Instead of trying to foist Mondeos onto the American public, Ford should figure out what Americans want and give it to them, at a price they are willing to pay. If they want to increase their margins, they should do so by making a car that Americans prefer over the alternatives, so that they can charge more for it relative to the competition.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Ford is at near capacity in Europe, which is a good thing. As Pch101 noted, why divert cars from Europe, where they are presumably sold for a profit, to the U.S., where they would have to be sold for a loss (or next-to-no profit)?

    GM can sell the Astra here as a Saturn because it has the extra capacity in Europe. But note that, in Europe, GM’s operations have not been as healthy as those of Ford. Hence, the extra capacity.

    Ford has a good thing in the Fusion, and now it needs to apply the Toyota/Honda approach of continuous improvement to the car.

  • avatar
    NetGenHoon

    x3 on the build up the Fusion. The Fusion has the chasis to base a nice performance variant. However, the Fusion manual options exclude tasty gems like the V6 and AWD. A domestic (read: cheap parts/repairs) AWD w/ a stick spells good times. (I guess that’s x2 on the Ford should be more like Audi wagon, too).

    Sajeev Mehta :

    NetGenHoon: but is the Mondeo really a domestic car?

    If Toyota and Honda having plants in the states doesn’t buy them domestic status, I don’t see why Ford having a plant in Europe loses it for them. At least in the eyes of anyone who believes TTAC is anti-domestic.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    Well I think there are a good number of people on this site saying that Ford ought to build the USA some Mondeos b/c it is what we want to buy.

    Back to Euro-pricing vs USA-pricing. So look up the price of some car we have here in the USA and see what it costs in another country that also has the Mondeo. In my 2 min look Ford did offer those prices as quickly as Honda did on the Accord. Anyhow I think that would yield a more realistic idea of pricing. If that Accord is 30% more in the foreign markets then take 30% off of the Mondeo prices in those same markets. We could take more money off of the price if we removed any taxes that we wouldn’t be paying here in the states. The price could be further reduced if the Mondeo was built in the USA with parts made in the USA (or likely Mexico or China like everything else these days). Anyhow – make those parts to the world design – i.e. the same as the Euro parts except where laws require them to be different.

    That brings up another point I want to make – why aren’t the big domestic car makers trying to unify the pollution and safety standards of Europe and the USA (best of both basically) so they can certify cars for sale here and there and save ALOT of development costs???

    Though I know several folks have mentioned a “not made here” mentality at the domestic car makers – they ought to wake up and truly join this global market that they so quickly mention in their marketing.

    Honda, Toyota, VW, etc etc sell basically the same vehicles around the globe. Why not Ford and GM?

    The other players sell basically one axle design around the world, they sell basically the same engine around the world, the same seats, the same fenders, etc.

    Why NOT spread the development cost across Europe, Asia and the Americas vs making unique vehicles for North America? Then they contract suppliers around the world to build them parts. Maybe they one one supplier for all the seats sent to factories around the world, maybe they use a North American supplier for our factories, a European supplier for their factories there.

    Then they have Ford selling the same old bloated overweight stuff that some people here in America like to buy and Mercury could sell the import-ish vehicles sold around the world. Someone mentioned canabilizing their own sales but what’s wrong with selling ALOT of cars that the world wants with real style and variety and recapturing market share? I mean if Mercury was REALLY different than Ford then those divisions would be selling to different customers anyhow. An Accord driver wanting another Accord style sedan is not going to be stealing sales from Mustangs or big trucks.

    Oh and while we’re on it, combine all FOMOCO dealers into one – no more separate dealers for the different divisions – otherwise we get back to more rebadging schemes where one division worries that they don’t have a popular seller like the other division.

  • avatar
    greystone

    Why Toyota has beaten Ford?

    Toyota has its eyes set after F series truck. Ford should take on Toyota bread and butter ‘Corolla and Camry’, however Ford cars are not visually appealing – they almost look like an egg too much rounding up.

    Another reason there is no Ford model that stays for long. How old is Corolla and Camry? they never kill those models.

    People prefer the devil they know than the person they do not know – except for Mustang, Ford has nothing that is 40 years old car like Corolla and Camry, they have many numerous models that came and went.

    Ford should make the car to look like BMW body wise it should be appealing in the looks – Camry and Corolla are good looking and they are reliable, Ford can do it, for some reason they have done nothing and that is annoying me.

  • avatar
    wildcmc

    I just saw this article in another website. they talk about redesigning the Taurus next year.

    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8UFP5A80.htm

    My question is, why instead of wasting money on the re-design they don’t use that money to bring whatever they need to bring to build the Mondeo we all fell in love with in the 007 movie here in the usa?? I just don’t get it. And also, regardind euro design in the usa….. Audi, Bmw, Volvo, and VW are doing good here no? And they look very euro to me..
    Im not a big ford fan, but my eyes are insulted when I have to see some of the models that we got here in the us on the streets.

  • avatar

    I would like to hear the discussion the author alludes to about why the Mondeo can’t come to the US.

    I don’t understand why Ford can’t send a car that’s clearly a stellar exception to its lackluster fleet state-side since all we want is a nice mid-size sedan that handles terrifically at an attractive price. This car looks like it could be the ticket.

    Ford keeps reinventing the Taurus, it also has the 500 and the Fusion – cars you never actually see on the road. People don’t want a Taurus anymore! If Ford wants to compete with the much more attractive in every way European and Japanese sedans, why not send over a car that already has established itself as a winner? This is exactly what US mid-size car customers want.

  • avatar
    sygazelle

    I could never understand why Ford did not market the Mondeo in the US. When I go to Europe, I try to rent a Modeo whenever I can. It is living proof that Ford can build cars that people actually want to drive.

    Instead of spending money bringing the Mondeo to the States, Ford thought it would be a good idea to discontinue the Tauras (a best seller a few years ago) and then rename the Five Hundred with the Tauras name. I think the Ford executives are trying to kill the company on purpose. Nothing else explains their actions.

  • avatar
    Bogs

    Living in Europe the last 6 years I have learned of how great a car these are. I will need a few new cars for my company in Canada and if Ford sold these in North America this would be the car I would buy, hands down.

    Bogs

  • avatar
    gururajachar

    I would like to buy new ford mondeo model, can any body guide me about its adv/dis advantages…

    thanks

  • avatar
    paulica

    In Europe, 2 or 3 months ago, Mondeo received new engines: 1.6 liter ecoboost (160 BHP ), 2 liter ecoboost ( 203 or 240 BHP ). The 2 liter Diesel has now 163 BHP and the 2.2 liter Diesel has now 200 BHP.
    Now, it’s true that the prices are skyrocketing.
    In my opinion the Europe cars are better then NA cars.
    Even if the USD is now closer to EUR the price is still a big problem. But like one of the readers here said :”Americans needs cheap affordable transportation right now!” .
    Anyway I have the opportunity to see a Mondeo underneath. Belive me, it’s built like a tank. On the front axle he has some parts designed for Transit. The rear axle is specially designed and seems to be almost indestructible.
    Bottom line, with this version of Mondeo, Ford Werke AG exceed much of the expectations. I don’t know why Ford Europe has somewhere near 1 bil $ profit and Ford America has near 12 bil $ loses.
    What do you think?


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