By on January 5, 2011

Only three automakers lost retail market share last year, as the market for new cars struggled back from the depths of “Carpocalypse.” Battered as it was by a recall scandal that engulfed most of the auto media coverage for the first half of the year, Toyota’s 1.2% dip came as little surprise. But with all the positive spin surrounding GM and Chrysler, the bailed-out automakers loss of 1.8% and .6% retail market share was a pretty huge disappointment. Ford, on the other hand, drew a huge distinction from its cross-town rivals, recording the second-largest growth in retail market share of all automakers in the US market, snagging an additional 1.2% of the market. Projecting 2010′s trends forward a year (a speculative exercise, no doubt) Ford would actually surpass GM in terms of retail market share, putting it second only to Toyota (and within spitting distance (.3%) of first place). As the bailed-out automakers lose ground in the battle for consumers (rather than volume), Ford makes a strong case for exempting itself from the “Detroit” pejorative: at least as far as consumer perceptions go, Ford has little in common with GM or Chrysler. Not that there aren’t still trouble spots…

In terms of overall volume, Ford fell just short of the 2m mark for only the second time in recent history last year, notching 1,935,462 sales. And in terms of brand strategy, the contrast to GM couldn’t be stronger: with Mercury marked for death, the entry-luxe brand added just under 1k new sales last year, and Lincoln had a thoroughly mediocre year, adding fewer than 3k new sales. FoMoCo enjoyed none of GM’s flashy sub-brand growth numbers because Ford spent 2010 working on its core brand, with the result that Ford’s 21.5% volume boost amounted to 310,697 incremental units over 2009. You have to go back to 2001 to find a time when the entire Mercury made that kind of volume in a year.

Lincoln and Mercury both lost .1% of the retail market last year, but the Ford brand attracted more new retail customers than any other brand in the US last year, snagging an additional 1.3% of the market. That makes Ford the second-most popular brand with retail consumers, with 13.2% of the market, and if 2010′s performance is replicated next year, Ford will surpass Toyota at the top of the retail market share heap. And that’s despite the fact that Ford was targeting a 30% fleet mix for 2010. Which brings up an important point: fleet sales can be OK if retail share grows as well. Where GM (specifically Chevy) is replacing lost retail share with fleet sales, Ford is growing both (and surpassing GM in government fleet sales, widely considered to be among the “best” fleet sale).

And a look at Ford’s car sales indicates that Ford is succeeding with the retail market for reasons other than the newness or hotness of its products. Jack Baruth has already marveled at the success of the facelifted Fusion, which had its best year ever, up 21% to 219,219 units. But facelifts can often account for a 20% bump… what’s truly indicative of what Ford has been able to do in the post-bailout environment is the Focus. A three year old design that has never done particularly well with critics, the Ameri-Focus ended its last full year of sales up 7.5% at 172,421 units. That’s good for 3rd place in the segment after Civic and Corolla, creaming Sentra, Cobalt/Cruze combined, Elantra and Mazda3. It’s one thing for an American brand to take third place in the C-Segment, but it’s quite another to do so with an about-to-be-replaced refresh of a ten-year-old car. And Focus was Ford’s slowest-growing car nameplate (other than Crown Vic), as Taurus was up 51 percent (to 68,859 units), and Mustang was up 10.6%  (to 73,716 units). Fiesta is off to a slowish start, but its year-end numbers (23,273 units) don’t tell much of a story, other than that gas prices are still relatively low.

Turning to Crossovers, Escape just barely lost out to Honda’s CR-V for the top volume spot among compact CUVs, growing a steady 10.4% to 191,026. Edge’s Fusion-style facelift helped bring the model back over 100k units after a poor 2009, up 34% to 118,637. Flex, however, continued to be a sales disappointment, as it lost 11.6% of its 2009 volume, falling to just 34,227 units. Considering how much better GM’s Lambdas sell (Traverse topped 100k units), the Flex’s underperformance is unforgivable. And because it’s such a goofy-looking box of a vehicle, a facelift will hardly do the trick. Ford’s doubtless banking on the Flex’s new platform-mate, the 2011 Explorer, to help give its large CUV effort a boost (and with over 10k December sales, they may be on to something there), but at this point the Flex joins the Taurus X and Freestyle in a long line of Ford failure in this segment. And given how many SUVs Ford sold in the day, this decade of large CUV irrelevance is more than just a embarrassment, it was a lost opportunity.

And though Ford showed consistency across cars and CUVs, trucks were where the Blue Oval made its money last year. F-Series was up 27.7%, which amounted to over 110k units of incremental volume. Ranger stayed flat on the year, giving up fewer than 300 sales compared to the year before, even as the compact pickup withers away. Econoline jumped to 108,258 units, most of which likely went to fleet clients, and creamed the European upstart, the Transit Connect, which managed a mere 27,405 units.

And what of Lincoln? At 85k units, its sales may have been up 3.6 percent, but incremental volume was less than 3k units, and it actually lost .1% of the retail market. That’s bad news for the brand that now holds all of Ford’s luxury aspirations. MKZ held fast last year at 22,535 units, an increase of fewer than 500 units. MKX added 499 units, to 21,932. MKS actually lost volume, dropping 16.1% to 14,417 units. That puts Lincoln’s “flagship” at about the same sales rate of other luxury flagships… like the Mercedes S-Class, which starts at twice the price of the MKS. The more comparable Mercedes, the E-Class, sold four times the MKS’s volume. MKT staged a big comeback in terms of percentages, but still only moved 7,435 units. And with December volume at 638, the MKT seems to be replicating the Flex’s failure. Thanks goodness Navigator is still around to provide 8k-ish sales every year, otherwise Lincoln’s volume would have fallen under the 80k mark for the first time in recent history.

Going into the new year, Ford’s strength will continue to derive from its Ford brand, which should improve considerably with the introduction of a new Focus, and its crossover and MPV derivatives. With retail share improvements almost unavoidable for the Ford brand, the only question mark standing in the way of its retail market supremacy is the extent to which Toyota retail share will continue to slide. But unlike Ford, Lincoln is not only sliding into irrelevance, it has little in the short-term product pipeline that can be expected to reverse its fortunes. If Ford bosses doesn’t take the rebirth of Lincoln extremely seriously, FoMoCo could find itself a one-brand automaker, without a luxury brand to boost profits on its common platforms. Still, if Ford lost both Mercury and Lincoln overnight, it would still have a comparable volume to Toyota… and that ain’t all that bad.

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91 Comments on “Year-End Sales Report: Ford...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    MKS actually lost volume, dropping 16.1% to 14,417 units. That puts Lincoln’s “flagship” at about the same sales rate of other luxury flagships… like the Mercedes S-Class, which starts at twice the price of the MKS.
     
    IMHO the biggest problem with the MKS is that it doesn’t look like a flagship sedan.  I’ve seen several in the wild and I can’t for the life of me decide why anyone would pick it over a loaded Taurus.  I LOVED the Town Car because it looked long and stately.  Honestly I love big American sedans but there is so little new on the market that I would be interested in.
     
    My lady put it this way; “The Town Car looks like a mob boss or a politician or someone important should step out when the rear doors open.  When the doors open on a MKS I expect an obese middle aged man in an ill fitting shirt to get out.”  (Ya got to remember she’s a Language Arts teacher.)

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      The MKS is a pallid placeholder that Ford has to call a flagship for the time being until they can figure something else out.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeffer

      If not for the Lincoln badge, I wouldn’t think there were any Lincolns out there. One recent model looks like an older Infinity while another one resembles a KIA. I don’t care for the Caddy design language, but they are instantly recognizable.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “I wouldn’t buy a Flex without slapping a “woody” kit on it first.” Agreed, Dan. BUT – wouldn’t it immediately turn into a – (GULP!) COUNTRY SQUIRE? Beautiful images immediately pass through my head at that thought! And I’m not even a Ford man!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Zachman, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Don’t tell her, I might get away with it!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The MKS is a pallid placeholder that Ford has to call a flagship for the time being until they can figure something else out.

      Sort of like the XTS, then?

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      @psar:
      Yes.  Although somehow the Cadillac “effort” seems worse.

  • avatar
    86er

    …the Flex’s underperformance is unforgivable. And because it’s such a goofy-looking box of a vehicle, a facelift will hardly do the trick.

    Tastes are subjective, but really, how do other amorphous blobs we call crossovers get mostly a free pass these days and a handsome and competent vehicle like the Flex get the label “goofy-looking”?

    I think it’s because the Flex looks too much like what every other crossover actually is.  A station wagon.  Cognitive dissonance will do some wonderful things to people.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      +1  I wouldn’t buy a Flex without slapping a “woody” kit on it first. It is what it is, get over it.  And having ridden in a “Limited” with leather, painted black with a white roof, a very elegant and competent vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      Tastes are subjective, but really, how do other amorphous blobs we call crossovers get mostly a free pass these days and a handsome and competent vehicle like the Flex get the label “goofy-looking”?

      Yeah. FoMoCo want more of you, and, especially, Flex want more of you. BADLY, NOW. LOL.

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      I think part of the problem, for whatever reason, women hate the Flex.  At least any I have had a conversation with about cars, including my wife.  I think it’s a great battle wagon alternative to the mini-van, more car like, handsome and well thought out, but if the ladies hate it……..

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      @dswilly, my lady likes it BUT not until she rode in one.  And she had no choice in the matter, we were picked up from a hotel in Chicago (October 2009) to be driven to the airport in one.  (The black and white Flex Limited mentioned in my above comment.)  She found it fairly quiet, serene and spacious.  It gives me hope because she likes the GM Lamda triplets too but I’m not positive how much longer GM will be around in NA.  I think a used Flex for hauling the brood around (when we have one) would be a better bet.
       
      Hmmmmmmm if you guys could just FORCE your wives to drive it… lol.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      I think that the Flex’s problem is that you don’t sit up high enough in it.  For my wife’s next car, she wants something you sit up high in.  A lot of women have been used to sitting up high in minivans and SUVs, and they like the view.  This is what the other CUVs have that the Flex doesn’t.  I have always liked the Flex, but I am clearly in the minority.

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      Not sitting up high enough will cause a problem for the new Explorer me thinks …

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      The Ford Flex would be awesome if it were simply sold by a different company: MINI.

      The basic design looks like a giant Cooper. With minor front and re bodywork changes, this could be a mega-Mini and sell quite well.

      Oh well…

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      “I wouldn’t buy a Flex without slapping a ‘woody’ kit on it first.”
      That’s a lot of Scotchcal – but most definitely worth the trouble.

      I think a set of custom side graphics depicting GE’s F3 series locomotives would also be a fitting complement to the Flex’s appearance.
       
      The tuxedo look is also a big winner with me; the black body plus white roof immediately give me that “night on the town” feeling – with a hint of burly shouldered bouncer thrown into the mix.

      I’m still heavily considering a Flex Limited as it’s got rear seat legroom that puts a lot of higher end “luxury” cars to shame, with a 3rd row usable by adults for shorter hops. Among all the various flavors of vehicle infotainment systems, SYNC seems to go from strength to strength, plus the free firmware updates are another major selling point.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Kill Lincoln.
     
    Also, bring over the Falcon.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Except for the Navigator, the new Lincolns, aren’t the way Lincolns are supposed to be.
    Lincolns are supposed to be long formal boxes with suicide doors, convertibles, and a continental tire hump in the back. Lincolns are supposed to look big and heavy, and be seen in black, except in Florida or Arizona.

    There comes a time in a man’s life when he needs a Lincoln like this. When that time comes today, Lincoln doesn’t have a car to meet that need.

    We know what Lincolns are. When is Ford going to start making them so we can buy them? 

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Rough year for Ford.  Sales of their new appliances are terrible.
     
    -Fiesta again lagging behind the very old competition.
    -The Taurus is selling worse than the Five Hundred.
    -The Flex is a MAJOR failure…and Ford just introduced the exact same vehicle…called Explorer.
    -The Mustang…with it’s cheap interior and bland re-skin was outsold by the better car.
    -The Fusion is very fleet heavy, those numbers are skewed.
    -The Transient Connect is a joke…only moving ~2200 a month
    -F-Series is very fleet heavy…when you can get a crew cab F-250 for $23K, Ford isn’t making a dime.
     
    -Mercury, for a closed brand, STILL outsold Lincoln…bravo.
     
    -Lincoln Taurus rebadge: has been a complete failure.  A tarted up Taurus is not a ‘near-luxury’ car.  It needs A LOT of work.
    -Lincoln Edge rebadge: despite being reskinned and having the Lincoln-touchy thing only sold about 250 more than last years model
    -Lincoln Fusion rebadge:  Up only 2% from last years sales disaster?  With a fresh reskin?  Not good.
    -Lincoln Flex rebadge:  A bigger failure than the Flex.
     
    ———————-
    All in all, not a good year.  Heavily dependent on fleet sales, new product floundering.  Ford needs to get on the right track quickly.  Ford needs to make their cars competitive…and not cover up all of the compromises with fancy buttons and shaking seats.  Lincoln needs a top-down rehab session with competent designers (they actually have one now), and vehicles that are not overpriced, under-delivering rebadged Fords.
     
    I’m not sure which line needs more work…Ford or Lincoln.  Big Al better start doing something…anything…soon.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      Silvy,
      What part of up 1.2% do you not understand?  If this is what a “rough year” looks like, then I guess I like it rough!

    • 0 avatar

      “-The Flex is a MAJOR failure…and Ford just introduced the exact same vehicle…called Explorer.”

      Agreed. Can someone please explain why Ford constantly feels the need to put out a multitude of SUVs/CUVs that often overlap each other in price, space, etc? The Explorer and Flex even share the same platform, for Pete’s sake. It seems almost as stupid as the Jeep Patriot/Compass debacle. (And the two vehicles don’t have any appreciable differences in capabilities either; the Explorer can only tow 500lb more than the Flex.)

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Silvy, that was a lot of work for nothing. You have zero credibility here and your pathetic attempt to spin fairly good results into failure is immediately disregarded by anyone who is literate. Give up, go to Autoblog and be among your own kind. Ford isn’t perfect but I would much rather be them than GM. Go away and don’t come back.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Obviously, the new Explorer will replace the failed Flex. What else is there for it to do?

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      Silvy, that was a lot of work for nothing. You have zero credibility here and your pathetic attempt to spin fairly good results into failure is immediately disregarded by anyone who is literate.
       
      Now that was funny.  This is why Ford fleet dumps…to keep cheerleaders like you happy and prop the end of year sales report.  Who cares if sales are up a mediocre 1.2% if they are selling to low margin fleets?
      Do you think Ford makes any money on their F-250 Crew Cab when they sell it for $23K?  That is what my work paid for that sorry excuse for a “truck”.
       
       
      Obviously, the new Explorer will replace the failed Flex. What else is there for it to do?
       
      Ford has already announced they are committed to the Flex and it will receive a MCE.  Talk about wasted cash…just like the Transient Connect.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Ford is up year over year 17%, the 1.2% figure is an increase in retail market share.
       
      Crew Cab Super Duty trucks don’t sell for $23K even to fleets, at least not new ’11s, maybe someone was dumping old leftover ’10 models, but that seems off even for them.
       
      The new Explorer has been a huge hit in the showroom, even though personally I feel the Flex is a better vehicle, and is what I would buy if I were choosing between the two.  The Flex will live on as a high margin premium vehicle, while the Explorer will be the mass-market large CUV/SUV.  Even though the Flex has a nicer interior than many luxury vehicles, more room than anything in the class, and the most serene ride this side of a Town Car, the butch styling of the Explorer sells it for people.  Image is everything I suppose.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Yeah, Ford is really sucking wind. Sales way up, profits way up, stock way up, taking share from GM and Toyota all whilst paying off a goodly portion of its debt.
       
      No, not the brier patch!
       

  • avatar
    jj99

    Time for some basic math.  Better sit down before reading this.

    Ford +1.2% market share.
    GM -1.8% market share.
    DCX -0.6% market share.

    +1.2% – 1.8% – 0.6% = -1.2%.

    Last year, Detroit lost -1.2% retail market share.

    Half of the GM and DCX buyers switched to Ford.  The other half went Asian.

    Detroit is rental queen.

    You guys should be depressed.

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      What’s classic is Ford seems to get a “Free-pass” when offering long-in-the-tooth models and products.  The Escape has remained relatively unchanged since it first came out in 2001.  The Fusion is on the CD3 platform from 10 years ago (it will be interesting to see what they come up with on their own in 2012) The Ranger is a dog, and the Mustang utilzed new lights and new engines ( a year after the redesign) to keep it interesting.

      Now the Escape and Ranger do sell, now is it their awesome cutting edge design, added content, low APR and cash-back? or just high quality vehicles?

      Fords new AD campaign which should be kept under wraps much like the 250,000+ Fusions which NHTSA said to “be careful” when installing all-season mats.
      “My Fusion drives awesome!” *disclaimer* when not equipped with the 6F35 transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      Suprarush:  I agree that some Ford’s have been out for awhile.  The difference between Ford and the US competition is that Ford has started to do well on Consumer Reports and J D Power tests.  Ford is putting out an aura of quality that GM and Chrysler cannot match right now.  You can sell an old but high quality car.  An old low quality car sells to fleets and with big rebates (See Chrysler).
      How is Ford’s long term durabilty?  Good question.  How is anyone’s these days?  But the fact is that if you ask most people which US manufacturer is building the best cars and trucks right now, most will say Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Ford doing well in Consumer Reports?  Ford ranks 10th place in reliability.  Lincoln is worse.  Every Toyota and Honda brand rank better than Ford. Since when is a 10th place showing considered good?

      In the Consumer Reports used car reliability, Toyota and Honda are miles better than Ford.  The Consumer Reports “don’t buy” used car list is full of Ford products.

      Ford is very good at controlling the message in the media.  Toyota and Honda are good at building great cars. 

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      A goodly number of customers are not obsessed with having something ALL NEW! A well proven model which is regularly tweaked with improved engines, transmissions, information systems and the like can have a very, very long product life cycle. Consider how long the original VW bug sold well, and VW wasn’t exactly speedy about improving it. Ditto the Model-T, Volvo 240 and many other benchmark vehicles.
      The modern obsession many companies have with ALL NEW designs every few years is often counter productive. Many recently Hondas and Toyotas, for example, have not really been a step forward from their predecessors.
       

  • avatar
    geeber

    Edward Niedermeyer: Thanks goodness Navigator is still around to provide 8k-ish sales every year, otherwise Lincoln’s volume would have fallen under the 80k mark for the first time in its history.

    Lincoln volume didn’t exceed 100,000 until the early 1970s (1973, if I recall correctly), and was well under 80,000 for all of the 1960s and 1950s. The first of the suicide-door models, which won rave reviews for its design, engineering and quality, barely topped 26,000 units in 1961. That was the only Lincoln in the lineup for that year. Lincoln wouldn’t offer two models in its lineup until the Continental Mark III debuted in April 1968.

    As for Explorer sales – virtually all of those were probably the 2010 Explorer. I haven’t even seen a new 2011 Explorer on the lots of our local dealers.

    • 0 avatar

      I meant to say “in recent history,” as our archive only goes back to 95.
      And the new Explorer counted for about half (5,657 units) of the volume Ford gives, according to our breakout.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Thanks for the clarification. Those 2011 Explorer sales look promising, even though I have yet to see even one at a local dealer. Let’s see if it can sell well if gasoline prices continue to rise throughout 2011.

  • avatar
    dwford

    When you think about the mechanicals Ford is working with, it is just amazing what they have done. Consider the Focus, twice refreshed on a 12 year old chassis, shows a sales increase. The Fusion, based on a 10 year old Mazda chassis, posts a big increase. The Escape, also based on a 10 year old chassis many times refreshed, still selling strong. The Taurus, MKS, Flex and MKT, riding on a heavily bastardized Volvo S80 chassis…ok so maybe these aren’t selling so well. The Mustang, on a cheapened 10 year old Lincoln chassis, has a stellar refresh and continues to sell.

    Now Ford starts to transistion to all new designs, first with the Fiesta, soon the new Focus, and on to the rest. Ford is showing strength with these ancient designs – being sold for top dollar no less. It will be interesting to see how all the new world chassis do over the next few years.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Lipstick on a pig.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Current Focus? Yes. Current Fiesta? Hardly.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ jj99…..”lipstick on a pig”….” Did you pick that up from C.R.?  If you did….its soooo 2006.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      It is lipstick on a pig in many respects, but it is working, and they are building momentum for the new models.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      All new Camry and Rav4 due this year.  And, they are on an all new chassis.  Not just a sheet metal job. 

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      Fiesta IS the Mazda2, Focus IS the Mazda3.  Mazda3 even in its strongest year never outsold the Corolla, what makes everyone think the Focus should be any different?

      Jonh Q Public buys Ford because of low APR, ease of credit, cash-back and several other programs (cash for clunkers, Family Plan, A-Plan etc) that intend to roll cars over the curb.  Can Ford sell their vehicles on quality and no-programs? didn’t think so….

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Suprarush: you have it backwards. The Mazda2 IS the Ford Fiesta. The Mazda3 IS the (about to be replaced) European Focus C1 chassis. Mazda now borrows chassis from Ford, and not the other way around. Once the Escape and Fusion are redesigned, they will be on Ford chassis, not reworked Mazda.

      The Fords DO sell because Ford knows how to market their cars, and isn’t afraid of rebates or low APR to move them. At the same time you have to admit that Ford’s brand perception has improved while Toyota’s has dropped.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      While the Fiesta and Mazda2 are technically on the same platform, they share far fewer parts than you might think. The Mazda3 and Focus aren’t related at all. The 3 is based on Ford Europe’s C1 chassis, while the US Focus is still based on the old, circa-1998 C170 platform. The new Focus is based on an updated, second-gen version of C1, which I imagine isn’t closely related at all with the 3.
       
      I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around your “logic”, honestly. Even assuming Ford and Mazda vehicles are identical, there are a plethora of reasons the Ford would outsell the Mazda: there are more Ford dealerships, Ford brand awareness is much higher, Ford brand perception is better, Ford offers features Mazda doesn’t (Sync, usually better gas mileage, less controversial styling), etc.

      It’s the same reason the Corolla outsells the 3, even if the 3 is the superior car (which I personally think it is, and by a good margin). Toyota is the safe, easy choice, everyone knows what it is, and there are dealers everywhere. Mazda doesn’t have nearly the market presence of Toyota, or Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      Keyword “perception” Ford has effectively sucked out the handling characteristics of a Mazda, the safety aspects of Volvo and the “glossed over Jag and Land Rovers positives” (if any).

      Their design(s) tend to look OLD, 1 year after launch, their gas mileage (see Edmunds review of Fusion hybrid) is nothing more than hot air, EPA ratings on turbo-charged cars without boost is hardly earth-shatering. Sync? Sync? yeah my cell phone plugs into my dash too!
      So you’re suggesting the Focus will outsell the Corolla?

    • 0 avatar

      I doubt RAV4 would come out this soon. The RAV4.3 was on the market since 2006, e.g. barely 5 years now.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      @Suprarush: I believe I suggested nothing of the sort. I meant to point out that just because a Mazda and Ford are mechanically similar (which they usually aren’t) doesn’t mean they will sell the same. Ford has more market presence and people tend to look at Fords more often than Mazdas, giving them an automatic advantage – all other things being equal. The way you feel about how Ford’s styling ages after a year on the market is personal opinion and nothing more, and isn’t a good indicator of how the buying public as a whole sees things.
       
      Ford’s EPA ratings have been pretty good, and not just for EcoBoost models. The Fiesta is naturally-aspirated and has best-in-class ratings; the Fusion is competitive, as are the newer crossovers. The Taurus is too heavy to get great mileage and the current Focus is outdated, I’ll grant that.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      A platform, or rather, the hard points in the frame and/or unibody, can last for decades with upgrades to what actually attaches to it and still lead to fully modern state of the art vehicles.  The current Escape for example has brand new engines and transmissions as of ’09, a brand new interior and exterior as of ’08, and all of the cutting edge technology found in other Ford models.
       
      People here put far too much emphasis on platforms – to 99.9% of the buying public, the platform makes no difference at all.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      I am sick and tired of people obsessing over the newness or oldness of a platform.
      The current Fusion is, all things considered, at least as good a vehicle as the current Camry or Accord are even though the Camry and Accord have had more recent platform redesigns.

  • avatar
    NN

    If the new Explorer chalked nearly 6k sales when it is hardly even out yet (haven’t seen one at a dealer or on the streets), then that is a great sign, as it is already outselling the Flex.  I’m thinking it’s going to be a huge hit for Ford in 2011 and regain lots of that share that GM has pulled together with the Lambda’s.
    I still prefer the Flex, so I’ll pick one up used in a few years on the cheap.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      It has been rumored around Ford sites that 99% of those Explorer sales for December were the old model…less than 600 were the new, half-assed model.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      From what I’ve read roughly half were the new model.  We’ve sold every one that we’ve received within two days of it arriving on the lot, and at full sticker.  The new Explorer is going to be a huge sales success from the early evidence.

  • avatar
    SV

    Ford did pretty well this year, no matter how jj99 and Z71 try to skew the numbers.
     
    (I’ve gotta ask though, what is with this anti-Ford trolling on car blogs? I don’t see people spouting irrational hatred toward Toyota or even GM to the same extent. One almost expects to see this sort of crap over at Autoblog or Leftlane – where it does happen, though I think it’s just Z71 posting under a different name over there – but on TTAC? It’s mystifying, and for someone who actually LIKES what Ford is doing right now, rather frustrating.)
     
    It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the new Focus hits the market. It’ll be a vastly superior car, no doubt, but also much more expensive: A 2012 SE Focus sedan, likely to be the most popular model, is priced right in line with the Civic LX and Mazda3 Touring (the 2011 Focus SE is priced almost identically in terms of MSRP but usually comes with several grand on the hood). Ford will surely make more money per unit of the 2012 sold but whether they’ll be able to actually increase sales volume over the heavily discounted, somewhat fleet-reliant 2011 remains to be seen.
     
    I’m also very intrigued to see how the C-Max does over here. The Mazda5 has been selling in the 20k range annually, IIRC, but Ford is on more people’s radar and they seem to advertise much more effectively. I think if the C-Max can double the 5′s volume Ford will be happy.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Back in 2001, I was excited about a 2001 Mazda 6 series.  In 2011, I am not so excited about a 2001 Mazda 6 series ( sorry, I meant 2011 Ford Fusion ).

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      Mazda doesn’t make a “6 series”; you’re thinking of BMW. There is however such a thing as the “Mazda6″. It was new in late 2002 (not 2001) as a 2003 model.

      It’s already been more than touched upon in another discussion how much the Fusion has been modified from its Mazda roots.
       
      Not to mention the fact that the current Mazda6 is also based on the initial 2003 model year design, or that the current Camry uses the same platform as the ’02 (assuming Toyota still only changes the platform every other generation).

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      I heard this.  Ford took the Mazda6 and made it better.  Must be like a fine wine. It gets better with age.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      Yes, Ford took the 6 and made it better. Sounds like a good deal to me. 200,000+ people in 2010 seem to agree.
       
      I drove a Fusion recently; it’s a very nice car. Quite refined and smooth-riding, actually, and with decent handling to boot. As long as it’s competitive and attracts buyers, which it does, it doesn’t really matter how old the chassis is.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      A US government lot near my job has rows and rows of brand new Fusions, Edges, and Escapes.   Looks like a backdoor bailout.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      (I do have to call “shenanigans” on complaints about Ford bashing here. Z71_Silvy aside, nothing beats the GM bashing that occurs here on a regular basis. It isn’t even close. GM bashing is like a religion here.)
      That out of the way, Ford has done a good job within the same constraints the other domestics have had (i.e. a somewhat limited development budget). I like the Transit Connect and am looking forward to the Focus and the C-Max. I think the refresh on the Mustang came to soon and was actually a step backward. I drove a ’10 Fusion about a year ago (it was a rental) and was impressed with it. Again, they are doing what they can on a limited budget and making the most of what they have.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      I do agree that GM isn’t always given the credit they deserve, but I also feel like Ford gets the most irrational hate. GM complaints tend to have some basis in fact (fleet dumping, bailouts). It’s not like Ford is exempt from criticism, far from it, but the only criticism they seem to get is of the “I had a Ford that broke down so now I’m on an internet crusade” variety. Plus I don’t think GM has anyone on this site that can compare to Z71_silvy in levels of consistent vitriol ;)

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      @SV: given the sheer breadth of anti-GM posting on TTAC, there’s no need for it to concentrate from one person – it’s like an echo chamber.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      Ford did pretty well this year, no matter how jj99 and Z71 try to skew the numbers.
       
      No skewing from me…my numbers are straight from Ford press releases.

    • 0 avatar

      Guys, I’m telling you, enough with the “bashing” stuff. Accusing someone else of “bashing” is nothing more than a substance-free distraction from the debate at hand. Discuss the facts TTAC presents, bring up facts we left out of the discussion, debate interpretations of fact… but don’t just sit there and whine. And for goodness sake, stop taking industry analysis so darn personally.
      If you have a serious problem with TTAC’s editorial policies or wish to express your opinion about the quality of our coverage or commentariat, you can always do so at our contact form. If your only interest is in talking about how our coverage “make you feel” there is no shortage of other automotive blogs who are willing to host emotionally-driven, substance-free comments.
      I really don’t want to have to go back to the old days of deleting huge numbers of comments each day, but if the debates don’t stay substantive I will have no choice.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Fine.  I can take a hint.  No room here for a view from someone who spent life on the east and west coast.  It is clear others consider the east/west coast view as bashing.  So, no need to delete my ID.  I am gone.

    • 0 avatar

      jj99: I’m not sure what you’re trying to say… I’ve lived on the Left Coast my whole life. What I am warning against is the whole “you’re bashing… no, you’re bashing” line of discussion. That goes nowhere, and it distracts from the serious, substantive, and yes, respectful debates that TTAC prides itself in. Creating a valuable comments section takes effort from all parties involved… if that’s not something you want to put the effort into, then by all means, keep stepping.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Lincoln needs a complete overhaul, starting with ditching those stupid MK_ names. Next, they have to get rid of those horrible grilles. Need to be completely distinct from Ford platform mates. Return to elegant American luxury, not faux BMW-Mercedes wannabees.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      I agree about the names. Zephyr, Sentinel and Aviator sound much, MUCH better than MKZ, MKS, and MKX.
       
      I’d like to see Ford converge the Mustang and Falcon into one modular RWD platform and use that as a basis for the entire Lincoln lineup. Using some of those early-2000s Continental concepts as styling inspiration would be nice too.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Zephyr, Sentinel & Aviator?

      How about Continental, Mark, and Versailles?

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      I think the Mark is best as a coupe and the Continental as a full-bore flagship (ignoring the lame gussied-up Tauruses of the 90s; I’d like the Continental to be more like it was in the 60s). In fact, this would be my ideal Lincoln lineup:
       
      -Zephyr (entry-level luxury; either next Mondeo chassis or some sort of adaption of the Mustang architecture)
      -Aviator (Explorer- or Edge-based SUV, but no shared exterior panels this time)
      -Sentinel (mid-level 5-series/E-Class rival; RWD next-gen Mustang platform)
      -Mark IX (Sentinel-based coupe)
      -Continental (flagship sedan; stretched next-gen Mustang platform)
       
      If they adopted the styling of the 2002 Continental concept (itself just a retro homage to the 60s Continentals) or came up with something similarly attractive, I think you’d have a pretty enticing range of cars.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      ” …. ditching those stupid MK_ names.”
       
      +100!!!!!

  • avatar
    geo

    Oh come on, people.  A 2001 Mazda 6 series is not the same as a 2011 Fusion.  Shared components does not equal the same car.  An old Mazda six is not a class leader in 2011. The Fusion is.

    And a 2010 CV is not a 1979 LTD.

    • 0 avatar
      itsgotvtakyo

      I love this argument too because it’s only made by people who don’t know much about how cars actually work. It seems to me that success in this business is largely determined by the public’s perception of the given automaker and absolutely nothing that’s actually based in reality. How else could this myth that the japs build brand new cars every six months and the doms do it once every two decades be perpetuated? The reality is that the lifespans of both japanese and domestic vehicles are almost identical. Introduction, revision, reskin, repeat. And that BRAND NEW introduction probably cribed heavily from the model that preceded it! How else do you explain an engine, seats, suspension and braking systems from a 2001 Integra being able to fit directly into a 1992 Civic?

  • avatar
    mikey

    I’m a GM hourly retiree, and a more dedicated GM fanboy, you won’t find. That being said, I’m very happy with what Ford has done. I’ve always maintained, that it took some “big ones” for Bill Ford to give the CEO job to an outsider. The results speak for themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      jpcavanaugh

      I agree, Mikey.  I think that this is what separates GM from Ford and Chrysler right now.  Both of the latter are led by guys with successful records in autos (Marchionne) or heavy manufacturing (Mulally).  GM is not.  Marchionne and Mulally appear to have shaken their respective companies to their cores.  Ford is certainly showing good results.  I am not sure that GM has gotten the same treatement, and GM surely needed (and still needs?) it.

  • avatar
    spyked

    Good for Ford!  Now, make the Mondeo the new Fusion, and shhhh, don’t tell American’s that it’s a Euro design this time.  While you’re at it, don’t tell them that the new Focus is too.  We as Americans want to buy things made ONLY for us.  Camry, current Fusion and Focus, and Accord.  They didn’t buy the Five Hundred or the new Taurus or the Flex because they could just SENSE that Volvo platform underneath!

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      An old design is an old design.  Euro means nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      The next Fusion and Mondeo are going to be the same car, but developed in the US. Fingers crossed that they can make a worthy successor to the current Mondeo; as nice as the Fusion is, it wouldn’t cut it in the much more competitive European D-segment.
       
      I think Americans will be happy enough that the Focus is made in America. It looks good, has a fantastic interior, and should get good gas mileage (I think they promised 40mpg, at least on the stingy SFE model). The only question now will be if Americans are willing to pay Civic prices for a Focus that might just be at least as good as a Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      The next Mondeo and Fusion will be the same car, but developed in America. Fingers crossed that they can build a worthy successor to the current Mondeo; good as the Fusion is, it wouldn’t cut it in Europe’s much more competitive (and expensive) D-segment.
       
      I think it’ll be enough that the Focus is built in America and has an American name. The real question I think is whether Americans will pay Civic prices for an as-good-as-Civic Focus.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    The whole “Ford platforms are old” meme is getting tired.  The thing about platforms is that the underlying technology is quite mature.  We’re not talking about cellphones or PCs, where the component technologies follows Moore’s law.  We’re talking steel.  And while there are improvements in steel, they are slow to develop.
     
    BMW gets this.  Which is why they update models every 7 years, and update the underlying platforms every 14 years.  You can make a very nice car on a decade-old platform, if you spend the time engineering it properly.
     
    When I buy cars, I see if the seats are comfortable for long drives, how well the headlights work, whether the controls are intuitive, how much feedback I get from the steering wheel, and what the engine sounds like.   How old the platform is has minimal impact on the driving experience from where I sit.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Any engineer can tell you advances in computer speed and computer aided engineering software means chassis designs are advancing rapidly.  Old chassis design smell like cost cutting.  This is where Toyota and Honda have it right.  Even GM gets this. 

      Ford’s scheme of using old designs to save money will hurt them badly.  Ford seems to think they can cover this up by putting a bunch of cheap technology gadgets in the vehicle. 

      Toyota and Honda have a number of new vehicle releases over the next year or two that actually have new chassis designs.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      Ford is also releasing cars this year with all-new platforms, which incidentally replace their oldest designs: the 2012 Focus has a chassis that North America hasn’t seen before; the related C-Max minivan uses that chassis as well. Ford’s showing a concept this month that previews the next Escape, which will also be based on the new Focus.
       
      Once those cars are out, they’ll have a lineup that’s just as new as any other out there. The Taurus and Fusion can both trace their roots back a while, but they’re loosely related to their initial sources at best. And at any rate, they’re competitive and doing well in the marketplace, and both look and feel as new as the competition, which is what matters.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Speaking of numbers, there was a lot of praise for the old Focus.  What are the numbers for the incentives for that vehicle?  What are the fleet sales?  What are the subprime buyers?  All TTAC staples as far as numbers are concerned… I can’t believe that these weren’t pushed out to subprime buyers with a lot of cash on the hood.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Farago actually gave that car a one-star rating.
      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2007/10/ford-focus-review/
      What I’m wondering about now is who will serve the 15k and under customer? All the automakers are trying to go upscale. Unless the new Chevy and Toyota offerings can hit that sweet spot, you are going to see an unusually expensive product mix for the entry level buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Ford credit in general doesn’t like subprime buyers.  Since GMAC’s transition to Ally and the purchase of Americredit they have been doing a lot more subprime business than Ford.  I wish Ford Motor Credit would buy more subprime business, because it would lead to more sales for me, but they don’t.
       
      As far as cash on the hood, the current Focus has tons of it, up to $3,500 depending on the model, which is a lot for a car priced at that level.  The new Focus is going to hit lots in the next couple of months, so Ford is basically blowing out every Focus they have and building out through the rest of the parts in stock.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      Who will serve the $15K and under crowd?  CPO, as it should be.

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

       … under 15k … Kia/Hyundia. Isn’t this the strategy to stave off North Korea.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    I’m not an SUV fan, but I actually really like the Ford FLEX.  I always like boxy, angular designs.  The typical American family really doesn’t need an SUV that’s built for off-roading, they need a mini-van, they just don’t like the stigma (which is understandable). My guess is 90% of SUV’s are never taken off road, and are never used to tow. They just like the interior volume.

    To me the Flex was exactly that, a stylish minivan that a guy wouldn’t feel like was a soccer mom-mobile.  It also had plenty of room and got decent gas mileage.  I’m surprised they’re such a failure.  My guess is the price was a little steep.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I had a chance to drive a 2009 Focus rental – low miles.  Thought to myself if I ever needed a cheap, sync-leather-sunroof tossable little errand runner, you can’t touch it for $17k.  And although Ford has $2500-4000 on the hood, I bet their development costs are long paid, and they’re still making some kind of profit.

    Which brings me to issue #2 – old platforms.  Who cares?  Is it competent?  Is it solid?  Have they updated components?  Then….who cares?  Is anyone really under the impression the 2010 MGM kept the same underpinnings and components as the 1979 LTD?  Is the Impala not built on a 23-year-old platform?  They’re both solid, competent chassis’ that serve a purpose, including allowing a lower price point.

  • avatar
    DougD

    I’m late to this party, but I’m with DaveM.  If it’s a good platform why would I want it changed?  I’d be perfectly happy to replace my 01 Focus someday with another brand new 01 Focus if I could get it.
    Look around at cars, houses, washing machines, any mechanical device.  These days we don’t redesign for better, we redesign for less expensive and fewer parts.  It’s all about profit for the manufacturer, as it must be I guess but as an owner I don’t give a stuff.


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