By on August 16, 2010

Today’s Detroit News has an interesting item on Ford’s D3/D4 platform strategy, based on the thesis that

The remade Taurus has emerged as a flagship for the Dearborn automaker, restoring luster to a nameplate that had become synonymous with “rental car,” and helping to revive an automaker that had become dependent on trucks and sport utility vehicles.

As Jack Baruth’s Capsule Review of the Ford Five Hundred shows, the D3 platform offers good space and comfort, and the recent update and return to the Taurus nameplate has been rewarded with steadily-increasing sales. And though the Taurus has fought back to become a Ford-brand flagship (likely at the expense of Mercury), its platform-mates have been consistent underperformers on the showroom floor. Flex has sold in the low 3k monthly range, while MKS and MKT have been thoroughly beaten in YTD sales by the Cadillac DTS and Escalade, themselves hardly the most competitive alternatives to the big Lincolns.

But Ford insists that Taurus makes up the bulk of the volume required to pay off development costs for the D3 platform, and that incremental volume off of luxury versions only fatten the profits. And with the Taurus commanding a $30k average transaction price (thanks to a 20 percent SHO mix), it’s no slouch on the retail market itself. Best of all, Ford isn’t spending much to market the Taurus, and is rehabilitating an important nameplate by moving it upmarket. And with analysts figuring the D3 platform is slowly paying itself off, why call it a failure?

For one thing, using luxury brands to add enough incremental volume to barely make the platform’s minimum volume is not a recipe for long-term brand strength. As long as Loncoln’s flagship can be had for $10k less with a Taurus badge, it will be no surprise to see Taurus transaction prices running high, and volume remaining healthy. Unfortunately, it also leaves the MKS without a unique, competitive flagship. Flex, meanwhile, might bring new buyers into the Ford brand, but it’s also expensive for a Ford, and can be loaded up to the point where an MKT only makes sense for consumers with a flair for the Lovecraftian. And when the 2011 Explorer hits the market in earnest, the Flex’s already-weak volume will only plummet further.

On the other hand, the Explorer looks likely to help bring Ford’s D3/D4 platform back into the serious volume numbers. If Ford can resist the temptation to create a Lincoln rebadge, market it well, and keep Taurus volume up, it will have made a silk purse from the sow’s ear that was the Ford Five Hundred. In the meantime, calling the D3/D4 lineup a success is a bit like calling the auto bailout a success: yes, things have improved, but at a significant cost, and they’re not out of the woods yet.

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59 Comments on “Is Ford Enjoying Full-Size Success?...”


  • avatar

    Hey Ed, can we get a chart with D3 and Panther cars together? Whenever I’ve looked at the numbers (over the past 5 years, on TTAC or back in the day at Blue Oval News) the Panthers either matched or beat the D3s sales.

    More commentary here: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/editorial-taurus-taurus-taurus-or-sho-me-the-money/

    Now that we have a lot more D3s in play, the numbers still don’t look very promising.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Given that the development and tooling cost were ammortized/depreciated a long time ago and with the average transaction prices I would say at the volumes above (not including the explorer) that the D3/4 platform has turned from a disaster to a cash cow (while the flex doesn’t sell like planned, everyone I see is either the eco-boost or SEL models, with glass roof etc, so it’s not hard to imagine that it is pulling in high $30′s transaction prices), don’t think Ford will give up on it as it is what the suburban was before the SUV craze, a vehicle that can perform it’s purpose at a niche level and be very profitable while at it). The MKS and MKT (yes it is crosstour god awful) seem to be stop-gap models until Ford deals with lincoln (would imagine that lincoln will end up being heavily RWD based on the falcon and XF platforms/developement costs which will keep it segregated from Ford’s line-up)

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @rnc, I don’t think 80K total annual volume from four different models (each one requiring its own sheet metal and interior tooling) counts as a cash cow.

    • 0 avatar
      european

      th009

      dont forget ad money spent on each seperate model.

      btw, rnc is just another ford apologizer. if he trully wanted
      ford to succeed, he would speak out against the mistakes ford does,
      not make up stories and excuses. sometimes your biggest critic is your best friend. that’s how i know silvy loves ford über alles ;-D

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Seems I can’t find too many mistakes ford has made in the last few years (think I covered my opinion of the MKT above), Ford really doesn’t advertise those four models (atleast in my television watching habits).

      So lets see what we’ve learned today Ford =’s bad, but Chryco owned by “euro” also ran =’s good, despite that euro also ran having a lower market share (with more brands) than Ford’s wannabe euro brand, in euroland?

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      @rnc: Isn’t the Taurus/Flex/MKS/MKT are new for MY09 or 10? How would one characterize that: the development and tooling costs are all amortized/depreciated “a long time ago”???

      Sigh. Or, are you trying to be sarcastic?

      OTOH, how many Explorer can Ford push out the door? Aren’t those who’re still loyal to the model want a traditional BOF SUV, not a passenger car CUV? Are all those CUV(4 including Explorer) in Ford’s showroom just to confuse consumers?

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Norma –

      While I think a certain number of Explorer buyers want it for its traditional BOF capabilities, a lot of the people who buy it just buy it because they already have one and like it, or buy it because of the looks.

      I’ve had a number of customers who come to me telling me they want a SUV/CUV with good gas mileage and they would like to look at V6 Explorer. I explain that the V6 Explorer doesn’t get that great of mileage, and they would be better of in an Edge, especially if they don’t tow, but they prefer the more macho looks of the Explorer and don’t want to be seen driving something more feminine like the Edge. Styling and image still drive a lot of SUV/CUV sales, that that is where the new Explorer will be well differentiated from the rest of Ford’s lineup, save for the Escape, but that is much smaller, and due for a major reworking ala Kuga soon anyway.

  • avatar
    Syke

    OK, so they’re not out of the woods yet, but they’ve taken one of the most tragically moribund models in the Ford lineup and put honest-to-God life in it again. Now, why does TTAC invariably have a problem with something that’s going well?

    Anyone here with half a brain can certainly understand that after a couple of decades of producing crap, no American car maker is going to come back to perfect health with a home run or two. What it’s going to take is years (5-10) of very good product that’s going to get buyers to remember the current product, and not what was produced in the 80′s. And Ford’s well on it’s way down that road.

    Once again, what’s TTAC’s problem with something going right for a Detroit car maker? Can we ever get past treating American car makers like the National Enquirer treats celebrities?

    • 0 avatar

      Define the word “right.”

      And compare the volumes to the Panthers, Skye. It’s a pretty sad victory, considering all the money spent on the D3s and the $0.00 used on the Panthers. Ford put their eggs in the wrong basket.

    • 0 avatar
      ComfortablyNumb

      Sajeev, even if the Panther had soldiered on, it would have needed a major (and probably expensive) rework soon. It was a good platform, but heavy cars with longitundinal engines and RWD can’t make up the majority volume now. To meet emissions, most cars in the future will end up with smaller displacement engines and hybrids, on their way to electrification. I think Ford moving their full-size cars to the D3 platform was a smart move. It wasn’t a question of if they should do it, only when.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Ford could have put money into the Panther over the years and kept it current, but then it wouldn’t be a completely paid off platform that costs next to nothing to build. At some point Ford made the conscious decision to move development money away from the Panther, rake in short term profits, and appease the taxi/limo/police buyers who didn’t want the platform getting more complicated to work on anyway.

      No other automaker uses a BOF RWD platform for a passenger car, and there are probably some very good reasons why. That the Panther has survived as long as it has with virtually no upgrades is a testament to how well it was developed to begin with, but all things come to their natural end in time.

    • 0 avatar

      @ComfortablyNumb I agree, except about the big/RWD thing. I suspect that when the Panther dies, most of its (fleet) sales are gonna go to the Chrysler LX platform, not the D3.

      Ford coulda kept retail and fleet buyers loyal, very loyal, if they just took the Panther down the path of Continuous Improvement.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Ford coulda kept retail and fleet buyers loyal, very loyal, if they just took the Panther down the path of Continuous Improvement.

      I disagree with this. What made the Panther a fleet and (certain) enthusiast darling is that it didn’t suffer any kaizen. Had it been continuously tweaked and updated like every other platform out there, the end result would be, at best, something like Zeta/LX/DEW98: a complicated, expensive platform that spawned cars that get eaten alive on cost by their upsized front-drive competition.

      The Panther is like a shark or an alligator. Very successful in it’s niche, but it stopped evolving a long time ago and as such, outside that niche, not particularly capable or adaptable.

      Can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree, but you have an interesting counterpoint. Aside from the added weight of an IRS, 6-speed tranny and (retail) gizmos like SYNC, the Panthers won’t get any more complicated or expensive. If Chrysler can make a splash with the 300 (and then neglect it the same way) it goes to show that big RWD cars can keep young/old/fleet buyers around.

      Not to mention that the improvements would cost a fraction of the total money spent on the D3s and their new Chicago factory.

      And who cares about competing with FWD cars in the same price class, that’s why Ford has a Mazda platform. Nobody is expecting any full-size Ford to sell THAT well.

  • avatar
    portico

    I don’t think FOrd put thier eggs in the wrong basket. The panther platforms were getting Ford nowhere fast. The panter platforms represented the Ford that could not compete with the rest of the market. The D3′s have provided Ford much needed cash and credibilty with the buying public. Less is sometimes more especially when Ford is able to squeeze more profits from the D3 at the same time needed less of them to sale in order to make money. Ford seems to have gambled with cars that cost more money. They now however are about to produce cars that can compete at a cheaper level like the Focus and the Fiesta.
    As a consumer, my attitude toward FOrd has changed because they are building better cars. Better cars on the D3 platform,

    • 0 avatar

      Not really. The Panthers “were getting Ford nowhere fast” because Ford did very little to freshen them in the past 12 years, and the D3′s profitability remains to be seen.

    • 0 avatar

      More like 19 years, since the ’92 refresh. I loved the MY98 facelift, but hell, the basic chassis design goes back to what, MY78?

      If FoMoCo had put $20 from each Panther sale into R&D god only knows where they would be today.

    • 0 avatar

      To Ford’s defense, most of the chassis had significant redesigns in 2003. But that’s the problem, everyone thinks they haven’t changed one bit, because the doors/roof change every 15 years or so.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      It’s interesting how Honda always gets a free pass for doing cars that really only substantially change every eight years or so while Ford continues to be crucified for the Panthers.

      A fully modernized Panther would cost as much to build as an LS460 and I doubt they could get the $63K that Lexus charges for the base LS.

      Furthermore, as noted elsewhere the Panther buyers don’t necessarily want IRS, SYNC, or a quad-cam all-aluminum V-8. They want a car that has resale value after 250,000 miles.

  • avatar
    jj99

    On the east coast, I might see 2 Ford vehicles based on the D3 platform per week. I have never seen an MKT. Disaster.

    But, it is election time. The media is beginning to pump articles claiming a big Detroit success story is at hand because of the Obama bailout. The Detroit success looks more like a dead cat bounce to me.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Interesting, as we just drove from Harrisburg, Pa., to Maine two weeks ago, and I was surprised at how many Tauruses I saw on the road. And not rental car versions, either.

      Incidentally, the Flex’s best market is California, and it’s the top-of-the-line versions that are selling the best. It has a very healthy transaction price, and is selling to customers new to the Ford brand.

      You are correct about the MKT, however, as I have seen a grand total of one on the road since it went on sale.

      As for the media supposedly “pumping up” Detroit’s success to help the Obama Administration right before the election – Ford didn’t take any bailout money. That was GM and Chrysler. “Pumping up” Ford only reminds many people that we spent billions to bail out two poorly managed companies, while the third is managing to save itself. This is likely to rile bailout opponents even more, not make the bailout more popular.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      In my NYC – Boston area, not a lot of new products from Detroit. But, new Hyundai and Kia stuff is everywhere. The story is the same on Southern California, where I also spend a lot of time. I see a poster claiming lots of Flex in California, but you can go for days without seeing a single one. The coastal story: Not much new Detroit metal, but Hyundai and Kia is the big winner.

      TTAC should see if statistics on this can be provided. Something is amiss with the big Detroit comeback story. As I said before, it seems the Detroit comeback story is in fleet purchases and retail buyers in the midwest. My brother, who lives in the south says imports are spreading fast down there, but he says he sees more new Detroit in the south than he sees in the northeast.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      You don’t see a lot of Detroit products in NYC? That’s odd, I see tons of Detroit products in NYC, though many are yellow or have NYPD on the side.

      Still, those are sales and they make money.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      However, I do see a ton of Ford escapes on the east coast. True about the caps and NYPD cars. Incredible number of Impalas in that fleet with some crown vics and large GM SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      hakata

      I was just in NYC and was astounded to see all the NYPD Altimas. I never would have imagined.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      When I was southern California, I was amazed at the popularity of the big GM pickups and SUVs. They were everywhere…to say that there are no domestic vehicles in that area is simply not true.

      Same with New England…plenty of new Fords on the road. I was actually surprised at how popular they are.

      The simple fact is that both of us are only providing anecdotal evidence. Until I see some hard and fast figures on regional sales for various manufacturers, I’m going to take with a grain of salt any claim that no Fords are selling on the coasts.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Ford is not popular in the Boston metro. I do not know a single person that owns a Ford in the northeast or southern california. Not one. Many Ford and GM dealers have been closed. I am hoping TTAC does a study on this. For some reason, new Detroit products appear to have failed on the trend setting coasts.

      A lot of big GM SUVs on the road in Southern California. However, most of them were purchased before the 2008 crash. Not so many new ones.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      jj –

      Why do you keep going on about not seeing Ford’s in Boston? It doesn’t matter where the cars sell, as long as they sell. Also, FWIW, I have plenty of friends still up in the northeast who own Fords or other domestics. My parents, who live in the NE, have gone from Mercuries, to Chryslers, to GMs, and now own two Fords, and both have graduate degrees and hold well paying professional positions. Your attempt to somehow paint domestic buyers as somehow inferior, less sophisticated, or whatever you are trying to put across by saying they are only popular in the midwest is both laughably transparent and baseless.

      As far as SoCal goes, next time you are in LA, go visit these guys and explain how no one is really buying all of those cars that magically disappear from the lot.

    • 0 avatar
      european

      NulloModo

      a personal question: how come did you end up being
      a car salesperson while you got both parents with grad degrees?

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      NM, I keep bringing up the lack of new Detroit vehicles in the all important, perhaps most important, car markets in the country, which are LA, NY, Boston, SF.

      Detroit needs to get to the bottom of this in order to have this industry return. Currently, Detroit is nearly on life support while Asian and German companies do very well.

      I proposed one problem for Detroit, and that is it’s poor performance in the 5 year to 10 year reliability study in Consumer Reports. That is a big one. But, I suspect there is more. What are they? The big fleet sales numbers is not healthy. Detroit’s retail sales of vehicles is what needs fixing.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      jj99 is a troll, nothing more, part of the Z71_Silvy cult. Pay no heed. Until someone comes up with state registration statistics, this “I never see Fords on New England roads” and “No way man, I see Fords everywhere” back and forth is meaningless. Maybe the TTAC gods can provide the stats.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      European –

      Car Sales wasn’t my original career path. I’d worked in other sales positions through college to give myself some extra spending money and to cover whatever expenses the scholarships didn’t, so when I made a move from the northeast to Florida a few years ago right as the housing bubble burst and the economy collapsed and was unable to initially find a position in my original profession I decided to give car sales a shot to keep the bills paid.

      I’ve always been a bit of a gearhead, and going from a previous job where I was driving to work at 5:00am every day, and not getting home until after 6:00pm most days, with a very regimented daily schedule, I’ve found car sales, with its flexible daily schedule, to be a fun and comparatively relaxing way to make a living. I’ve been feeling the draw a bit lately to go back to grad school and possibly shift into something else, and with the US vehicle sales market picking up, I’m making enough that I can save up to pay for that. As it is there are far worse ways to make a living, especially if you are fortunate, as I have been, to work for a dealer that has a good reputation in the community and doesn’t try to pull the underhanded funny-business that has given many dealers a bad name.

    • 0 avatar
      JeremyR

      NulloModo, you don’t owe anyone an explanation of why you do what you do for a living. Sounds like you’re doing something you enjoy…

  • avatar

    I liked the old 500 wagon (before Flex). It came with a CVT, too. Too bad they killed it to make room for Flex. As for D3, when it came out initially, it was considered “a Volvo made in Detroit”. Ford are now making it their own at last.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      There were actually two wagons before the Flex. The one you are talking about, the Freestyle, had the CVT and the 3.0 liter V6. The Freestyle was replaced by the Taurus X which got the traditional 6 speed automatic and the much more powerful and smoother 3.5 liter V6, which was then replaced by the Flex which kept the same powertrain, but greatly improved interior packaging and quality of materials.

  • avatar
    mtr2car1

    Ford freely admits they expected more out of the Flex than the 40k or so units a year their getting, but they also talk about how the take rate for the Limited/Boost is about 40% (hence the addition of a Platinum version).

    Last time I checked, making $3.00 on 30k units is the same as $1.00 on 90K.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Last I checked, growing sales volumes and profit margins were important.

    • 0 avatar
      european

      are you imlying ford is making 3 times the money on a limited version than on a plain one?

      can you provide any reliable source for that?

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      European –

      It’s accepted fact in auto manufacturing that heavily optioned vehicles are much more profitable to the manufacturer. Most of the fixed costs in a vehicle, materials, labor, advertising, R&D, etc, are assessed on all versions of the model the same. Start adding options, and the profits go way up. It doesn’t cost any OEM nearly the $1,500 they charge for the nav system, or the $1,700 for the full glass roof, or $2,500 for AWD, etc.

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    The success of the Lambdas and the lack of succes for the Flex really shows how important styling is to car consumers. In addition, the Lambdas were intoduced about a year before carmaggedon while the Flex was rolled out right when car sales fell off a cliff.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      You make an excellent point, and one that I meant to bring up from the original article. I don’t see the new Explorer hurting Flex sales. The people who are buying the Flex aren’t traditionally Explorer buyers for the most part. We are selling them to people who want something different from every other CUV, or who appreciate the ease of entry from the lower ride height.

      The people coming onto Ford lots for a large CUV but disliking the looks of the Flex aren’t buying Flexes, they’re going down the street and buying a Traverse. The new Explorer should take a chunk out of Lambda sales, but I doubt it will do much to Flex sales.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Because everybody at Ford, or at least the opinion- and decision-makers, was convinced the Taurus “brand” (not only GM was speaking in terms of brands in the early 2000′s) had been forever damaged, and after it became clear it was too big and too expensive to replace the Taurus, and that the CV was going to soldier-on, the car was saddled with the “500″ moniker.

    Even though this car is a whopper, it was slotted into the D-segment in the Ford product planning system (previously held by the smaller Taurus – D186 platform) …

    Then it was realized that something like the original DN5 Taurus was needed, but the fear of “Taurus” persisted, and the dumb “cars begin with an F” convention was still in-force, so we got the Fusion…

    All said, with 77k pc on several different nameplates, one can see one of the reasons for moving the Explorer to the D3 platform … this will help fill the plant … but in comparison to the hey-day of the D101/186 Taurii, the plant then cranked out 250k Taurus-only bodies a year (and Atlanta cranked out a similar number, including Sable variants)…

  • avatar
    mjz

    Taurus is the only real success in this bunch. Much better looking and almost as luxurious as the MKS for $10 to $20,000 less, why would you buy the Lincoln? MKT, MKS and Flex are real duds. New Explorer will undoubtably be a big seller. Watch as Flex and MKT sre discontinued. Lincoln needs to return to names for their cars. MKS replacement should be called Continental.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Taurus has been the sales success of the bunch, but I’d hesitate to call the Flex a dud. Yes, sales have been slower than expected, but it has been universally reviewed extremely well, and has done great work helping to improve the public perception of the Ford brand.

      The lack of sales success has more to do with the American Public’s refusal to accept anything styled like a station wagon than anything else. The Flex rides extremely well, has a ton of tech features, good fuel economy for the size, excellent passenger space and comfort, and handles better than most CUVs. The lack of sales is just another instance of people picking style over substance.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      What were the original sales projections for the Flex?

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      th009 –

      Z71 likes to prattle on about one of the designers saying it would be a 100K per year vehicle, but he was really in no position to speak for that, and it was an off the cuff statement made before carmegeddon, so, it really doesn’t amount to anything.

      That being said, I’m sure Ford was looking for bigger sales than the Flex is getting, but what other posters have said is correct – the base Flex sells for about $27,500 after incentives, and that isn’t the popular model. The people buying Flexes for the most part are buying the ones that sell for actual street prices of $35,000 to $40,000 or so. It might not be a high volume vehicle, but it is definitely a premium vehicle in the line up, and as Ford hasn’t put a ton of incentives on the hood, apparently they are fine and making money with the way it is going out the door.

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      @NM, Flex has ‘good economy’ for the size? Didn’t at one time Ford heavily promote that Flex got ‘better’ highway mileage?
      Seems to be just smoke and mirror. According to CR, Flex got worst mileage that Pilot, worse mileage than Odyssey.
      BTW, regarding its size, I agree it’s ‘huge’, but only on the outside; it’s actually less spacious inside the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Norma –

      Ford advertises the Ecoboost models as getting better fuel economy compared to similarly powered V8 vehicles, which is true. In fact, the Ecoboost Flex gets better or equal fuel economy compared to a number of naturally aspirated V6 AWD models such as the Buick Enclave.

      I just used the ‘good economy for the size’ qualifier because everyone has a different definition of what good fuel economy is. Some people expect a vehicle to average near 30mpg to qualify it as good, which no full size SUV/CUV comes close to. The Flex is near the top of the rankings in fuel economy for similar vehicles. I haven’t read the CR test you mention, but according to EPA estimates, which are probably the best universally available source, the Flex V6 (non Ecoboost) FWD gets superior fuel economy compared to both the Pilot and the Odyssey.

      As far as interior space goes, certain other vehicles may have more cargo room, but nothing else comes close to offering as much passenger space. You can put corn fed 6′ tall men in all three rows of the Flex and they will be comfortable for an extended journey. While some minivans can also do that, no other CUV can claim the same.

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      @NM,
      No. I remember Ford advertises that Flex has better mileage than Pilot, which in fact only refers to EPA ‘highway’ rating.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Norma –

      You could be right, I just can’t recall seeing that commercial, but I have a DVR so I skip through most commercials as it is. Still, the Flex does have better highway milage FWD vs FWD compared to the Pilot, equal city mileage, and better combined mileage, so there is nothing wrong with the advertisement, it is factual.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @Nullo,

      Some googling did find me the original comments about sales projections:
      http://www.autoblog.com/2008/04/11/ford-shoots-for-100-000-flex-sales-a-year/

      Looks like Silvy wasn’t blowing smoke this time: that’s from Jim Farley, who I think is still part of the Ford executive team. Oops.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      th009 –

      Ah, OK, it was Farley, for some reason I thought it was Mays, my bad. Still, it wasn’t a ‘his opinion’ type of comment, and still before the market took a huge turn for the worse.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Why put YTD sales in the same graph as Monthly. It completely skews the chart. You can superimpose a YTD chart over the monthly chart to make a point – or even better use the YTD monthly average for comparison.

  • avatar
    ComfortablyNumb

    Sajeev, I think you’re right about the LX picking up most of the Panther fleet volume. But the LX is a unibody, which by most accounts is a necessary step towards adding sufficient lightness to meet fuel economy regs. As for loyalty to the platform, I agree an iterative approach has worked in the past. Unfortunately, the next iteration needed some major changes, so Ford decided to start with a clean sheet and hope they could make something that the forsaken Panther fans would like.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I doubt there was much life left in the Panther platform. Ford Australia tried stretching its Falcon platform over 20 years and, despite ongoing development, it is now uncompetitive. Even if renewal was an option, the Panther has been neglected for so long that it needed more than just a nip and tuck to make it competitive. Let’s face it, Panther cars drive like trucks.

    As for the loss of fleet sales, I don’t think we can make a snap judgment on that either. How much money were they making on these sales vs the profitability of the new D3/4 platform? The Taurus seems to have a decent average transaction price while the old Panther cars have been discount queens for years.

  • avatar
    EChid

    The more I see the Flex, the more I absolutely love it. Its basically the return of the old wagon, and it looks crisp and unique. Not to mention perfectly preportioned. The square shape gives it utility and an actually usable 3rd row.

    Too bad I have absolutely no use for a vehicle the size of any D3, despite how good many of them are.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I don’t get how Ford is making money on such volumes. The last Ford products we bought were in late 80s and mid 90s. I had a Sable (read as Taurus) wagon and they were selling 400-500,000 of the combination annually. When we bought our Windstar, their volume was knocking at about 20,000 monthly. As the selection of vehicles Ford makes increases, show room size goes up, the stocking of parts and training of dealer technicians increase vastly. Smaller, in urban area, dealers are physically out of room and expansion is very expensive. We had our local Ford dealership fold a few years back. To the auto purchaser, the price of new Fords in the $30-$40,000 range seems surreal. I personally feel that Ford hasn’t regained enough of a quality reputation for this size investment. Ford needs a “home run” desperately.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Easy. Your tax money is financing government fleet sales at prices that are not disclosed. Sounds like a backdoor bailout to me.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Gasser –

      Compare average Ford prices vs competing vehicles from Chevy, Dodge, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, etc, and you will see they fall in line with what other mainstream brands charge for similar vehicles with similar options.

      As far as costs go, most places don’t incease the size of the showroom just because new models arrive, no one is saying that every Ford dealer needs to have an example of every model inside, there is plenty of room on the lot and on the sidewalk right outside the showroom for that. As far as technician costs go, major components are shared between many vehicles. The 3.5 liter V6 is used in the Fusion, Edge, and Flex, the 2.5 I4 in the Escape and Fusion, and the 3.7 liter V6 used in many Lincoln models is just a bored out version of the standard 3.5. Transmissions are shared pretty liberally as well, so it isn’t as if the technicians need to learn a complete new set of rules and procedures for each vehicle.


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