By on June 15, 2007

diesel-x-type.jpgAdoption is a lengthy process. Prospective parents must submit to all kinds of scrutiny to prove themselves suitable child care providers. And for good reason. You can’t give ‘em back, as they say. Not so in the business world. Ford has officially put siblings Jaguar and Land Rover up for sale, with some sources placing Volvo’s custody in question. The move ends nearly a year of speculation, or nearly two decades of speculation, depending on how prophetic you’ve been.

A great many car people groaned when Ford grabbed the cat’s tail back in ‘89. Presciently enough, they worried that the American automaker wouldn’t “understand” and “respect” the Jaguar brand. Ten years later, they groaned again when Ford purchased Britain’s provider of “Chelsea Tractors” (Land Rover). BMW, OK, maybe. But Ford?

Analysts considered both purchases losers. Even if the brands could be brought up to snuff, they’d cost too much money to repair. When Volvo and Aston Martin joined the Premium Automotive Group (PAG), critics were more optimistic about those marques’ chances. In the end, both armchair analysts and the professional soothsayers were proved correct.

Last year, Ford lost $12.7b. The Blue Oval doesn’t break out PAG’s numbers, but insiders suggest the European brands lost $2.32b of that total. Volvo broke even last year and Land Rover climbed into the black. Aston Martin has moved on, leaving the cat holding the bag.

Despite protestations of corporate loyalty, Alan Mulally’s mob instructed Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to launch “Project Swift” (a perfect codename for anyone wondering about Ford’s desperation level). The money men are set to handle the sale of Jaguar and Land Rover– though that may not be the best word to describe the divestiture. 

Land Rover is on track to sell about 195k vehicles this year, bringing in about $9b. After looking at the costs of doing business, Merrill Lynch and Co. told the Wall Street Journal they think the outfit is worth about $2.7b. Ford paid $3b for Landy ten years ago. Factor in inflation and, well, that’s sad. But it’s better than Jaguar's progress (or lack thereof).

Ford bought Jaguar for $2.6b (approximately $4b in today’s dollars). In the last three years, they’ve lost an addition $2.9b. Ford’s in the hole $600m so far this year. That puts Jaguar’s value in the negative numbers. While that’s not unusual in the car business– DaimlerChrysler had to dangle a plenty juicy deal to get Cerberus to bite-– it’s not good either.

Citigroup analysts reckon Jaguar and Land Rover could fetch $8b. As the marques share parts and production facilities, splitting them up could drastically reduce that number. Others don’t put the number that high in the first place.

This is where Volvo comes in. Although Ford has stated the Swedish brand is staying, when inside sources are questioned they tend to whistle and look the other way. Volvo is considered viable. To ensure all three PAG brands find a good home, Ford may have to throw in its Swedish contingent.

And where might that home be? Speculation is, at the moment, a lot less than rampant.

The aforementioned DaimlerChrysler is not in a buying mood, as they are in the process of selling their suffix. General Motors has been brand hungry since formation, but they’re a little shy this week (year, decade). Toyota traditionally favors natural conception. Renault said it isn't interested, as their cash flow has diminished as of late. Fiat has voiced some interest in future acquisitions, but like The General, their reach presently exceeds their grasp.

As recently as January, BMW AG publicly expressed desire to purchase Volvo. The deal never ripened. Considering the complications-– like the weirdness of BMW taking control of Land Rover seven years after selling it to Ford-– further discussions seem implausible. That said, many in Munich feel the BMW brand is stretched to its limits. Adding another brand, as the company did with MINI, may be the best way to grow the biz.

Ford sold Aston Martin to a consortium of investors including Prodrive’s David Richards and a pair of Kuwaiti companies. This financial formula portends the most likely scenario: Land Rover and Jaguar’s buyers will come from outside the current automotive arena.

Jon Moulton, of the private equity firm Alchemy Partners in London, told Businessweek he was interested in Jaguar and Land Rover “on an emotional level.” (He also thought the price would probably be too high.) Though neither company has made much or any money for the owners in the last 20 years or more, he insists the brands are “alluring.”

Private equity firms like Alchemy and Cerberus are not considered solid stewards for wayward automakers. They shun scrutiny, avoiding the kind of open communications one looks for in a happy family. They can, however, put food on the table. That’s about as good as it’s gonna get.

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41 Comments on “Ford Death Watch 34: PAG Pegs Out. Who will buy Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo?...”

  • avatar

    What Ford did bring to the table for Jaguar and A-M were its engineering resources and buying clout, improving quality radically. But PAG failed because it was simply a colleciton of cast-off niche players that didn’t have enough in common to take out cost, but weren’t sufficiently differentiated to build loyalty.

    The question potential buyers need to ask themselves is whether there is a strong match between what Jaguar/Land Rover need and what they provide. So it becomes a contest between to see whether there is more synergy with BMW (i.e. leveraging their engines) or with a Private Equity firm that will bring management discipline and potentially a viable business model.

    Interesting Times.

  • avatar

    Am I missing something or would separating Volvo from Ford be a very difficult process? Are not all Volvo’s platforms shared with Ford vehicles? Jaguar and Land Rover exist more or less on their own little cloud, but Volvo is *very* integrated with the Ford family? How would it survive (without major reinvention) outside the Ford fold?

  • avatar

    I wonder if Sir Anthony Bamford (Mr. JCB) is still interested in bringing Jag home.
    He has said he doesn’t want Land Rover.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    MG may be built in Oklahoma City in the near future, while owned by a Chinese company; news hit of that, last year and may be the most odd auto news story of 2006.

    British investors may want to buy Jaguar, but in the Eighties, there were similar rumors of that occurring with MG. The Chinese have the money to do the buying of auto companies these days and are shopping around for nameplates they can leverage into selling cars in other countries.

    Jaguar might interest them, as might Land Rover. But if they move to buy, there will be no romance to the marriage. Could the American South be the next place for a Jaguar factory?

  • avatar

    It’s not that Jaguar (et al) were a bad fit for Ford, it was that Ford never brought it’s marketing muscle to enable Jag to compete directly mit ze Chermans. The S was no 5 series and the X no 3. They had 18 years to figure this out, but it didn’t happen, even with an ex BMW boffin in charge of PAG. Hell, it doesn’t seem that Ford can even market its US brands anymore…

  • avatar

    Ford ruined Volvo, hard to say where they may fit now. The view in Europe is that the only place they might fit is with BMW.

    Maybe Paul can translate the major points of this article.,1518,488590,00.html

  • avatar

    The problem with Jaguar is that its produced retro inspired designs for too long. Jaguar was never about that, their styling was always ahead of its time with a little twist of heritage. Kinda like Paul Smith or Oswald Boateng tailoring. Thats where its always been misunderstood. Now its been fixed and the XF will soon be out with other British contemporary styled vehicles on the way and Fords letting it loose? Whoever picks it up will have hits on their hands and Ford will have egg on its face.

    Also to say that Land Rover cost too much to repair is a bit far fetched. The brand knows exactly what its done and is doing because Ford left it alone to guide itself and create what it knew it needed to create, they didnt mess with it. Apart from possibly the LR2, the rest of the Land Rover and Range Rover brands are beautifully designed vehicles that are damned good looking and damned good at what they do. A strong base to work with, the future moves and directions are only good things, particularly with their future choice of body materials and powertrain technology, something SUV manufacturers else where could learn from.

    The bottom line is Ford doesnt have a clue how to manage brands effectively, they lost so much potential all those years ago. It’ll only get worse for the big blue oval.

  • avatar

    I too see the only future for Volvo with BMW. With some pricing adjustments (ideally downwards) Volvo could serve as a complement to the BMW brand. Not as expensive as BMW with a focus on safety not performance. Volvo could become BMW’s mass market brand (okay I’m stretching it) but with the right products (minivan) compete for some of the higher-end Camry/Accord dollars. I worry that BMW or Volvo could lose focus on either brand though. Postitioned as Mini-Volvo-BMW it could work. Unlike Rover, BMW would be going in with their eyes open and at least Volvo is making some money.

    As for the other two- I really have no idea. Is there anyway Mazda could take control of Jaguar? Seems like they could do a much better job with it than Ford. I can see the Chinese acquiring Jaguar, Range Rover is an unknown.


  • avatar
    Jon Paul

    Why would BMW buy Volvo? Do they need to compete with themselves? I think Range Rover should just go.

    My thought – Honda should buy Jaguar. Can you imagine Jag styling with Honda drivetrain reliability? No longer would Acura just be the step before Lexus/BMW…

  • avatar
    Point Given

    Niche brands require dedicated detailed focus. Ford is a big mass producing mass selling company. Something that sells low numbers is beyond their area of expertise.

    I would suggest that Ford didn’t know how to properly utilize any of the PAG brands and thus simply tried to apply the parts sharing, platform sharing technologies that gave us the Fusion/Zephyr style of cars. Which kills a brand’s entrenched style.

    In reality, the PAG brands need to be much differentiated from the Ford mothership to be effective “tiny” corporations.

    If Porsche is able to make a SUV that’s purported to be very profitable, Land Rover should be able to as well…but they’d need to stay away from the Ford parts bin.

    I agree that selling Volvo would be difficult as Volvo seems to be doing much of the heavy lifting in the Ford group engineering wise.

  • avatar

    Can Ford even sell Volvo? If I remember correctly, Volvo is part of the collateral to secure the money Ford wanted to attempt their turn-around. If that’s true, can Ford legally sell Volvo? If they can, what are the financial ramifications in terms of that loan?

  • avatar

    Volvo can’t go anywhere and if Ford is dumb enough to sell them it would cost them dearly. The new lincoln MKS is based on the Volvo platform, the mazda 3, euro focus and the volvo s40 are all on the same platform. I agree they are way too embedded at ford to sell. As far as Jaguar and Land Rover are concerned, if the rumors of cerberus being interested are true I would like to see them keep those two brands together and away from the penta star. Sell Jags and Land rovers in the same dealership to cut cost and really work on improving the cars, the XF is a great start…its time for a followup.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    The new Lincoln MKS is based on the Volvo platform

    Its based on the old Volvo S80 platform, de-contented with unique Ford parts at that. Like the old E-class giving birth to the Chrysler 300, I doubt Volvo really cares about it anymore.

    This is good news for Dearborn, even if it looks bad. I see Mercury Mondeos/Foci, Lincoln Falcons and money for more Panther Chassis/Mustang product development (ahem, Cougar anyone?) with the dead weight gone.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that someone does both Ford and PAG a favor and make this deal go through.

  • avatar

    Why would BMW buy Volvo? Do they need to compete with themselves? I think Range Rover should just go.

    Last year I cross shopped the XC90 and the X5. The XC90 was/is considerably cheaper than the X5 when comparably equiped. Same for the S40, S60 and S80 which are considerably cheaper than their BMW counterparts. I think the brands would complement each other nicely.

    Also I would love to buy a sub 30k “Volvo” if it had a BMW motor and RWD.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Hippo: nothing substantially new in the Der Spiegel article; the same speculation. Clearly the two most (relatively) logical speculations are BMW buying Volvo, and Aston Martin’s owners buying Jag/LR.

    BMW has pretty much maxed out the BMW brand; Volvo would fit (relatively) well with Mini and BMW. If it happened, a lot of us would be happy to see RWD Volvos again. I think it could work; the two brands have a pretty strongly defined and different image, yet there could be lots of platform/component synergies.

    Jag needs an owner that is an intense car enthusiast, and there certainly would be synergies with AM. Jag will never be a volume premium brand like BMW/MB; more a niche player like Maserati, etc.

  • avatar

    I think it could work; the two brands have a pretty strongly defined and different image, yet there could be lots of platform/component synergies.

    It’s the pursuit of synergies that derails most mergers in the first place. Platform sharing may be de rigueur, but it doesn’t generally save enough money to justify a merger or acquisition, or to make a bad one work.

    That being said, your assessment of private equity buyers being the most logical purchasers of Jag and Land Rover is spot on. Successful private equity firms look for great brands that are badly managed, which makes these two companies well suited to a private equity play. If these acquisitions are going to be successful, it’s going to because the new management knows how to exploit these brands and grow their revenues and margins, not from savings through platform sharing.

    If VW was in better shape financially, I’d say that both brands would nicely compliment their premium brands. (Land Rover and Jag would slot nicely alongside of Bentley.) But given the mixed performance of VW’s main brand, I question whether their management team has the time and resources to properly manage these, too.

  • avatar

    BMW should purchase Volvo! Some of the Ford products that use part of Volvo are a little strange especially when it comes to Service Volvo at Ford Dealership.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    “It’s the pursuit of synergies that derails most mergers”

    That all depends; sure worked for Compaq/HP (despite the naysayers).

    What I was trying to say was that Volvo is a complementary brand to BMW, which would be the primary motivation. The fact that there would obviously be synergies enhances the viability of such a merger.

  • avatar

    There are presedents…

    BMW gave away Rover.

    GM gave Fiat 2B to cancel the put option.

    DCX paid Cerberus to take Chrysler.

    Ford will pay “somebody” to “move” these companies.

  • avatar

    That all depends; sure worked for Compaq/HP (despite the naysayers).

    M&A is a widely researched topic, and studies invariably show that a majority of deals generate value erosion. Depending upon the study you read and the methodologies used, these studies conclude that anywhere from one-half to two-thirds of such deals ultimately destroy shareholder value.

    The same problems arise, time and time again. Managers often don’t know how to manage the new resulting business, the cost savings don’t materialize (some costs are reduced, but others increase), and diseconomies of scale arise when the growing bureaucracy begins to get in its own way. The urge-to-merge is often driven by managers looking to earn bonuses and big-man reputation points, not by rational assessment.

    BMW gave away Rover.

    GM gave Fiat 2B to cancel the put option.

    DCX paid Cerberus to take Chrysler.

    I don’t see Land Rover or Jaguar being in this league at all. Rover was a dead brand. FIAT’s brand equity was tumbling in the face of increasing foreign competition. Chrysler was, in my opinion, more of a break-up play — Jeep and the financial arm have value, but much of the rest of the company does not, plus it includes massive liabilities that could not have been carried by Daimler and would have pushed down Chrysler’s net value.

    Land Rover and Jag are more similar to MINI — some great brand heritage that hasn’t been fully exploited, due to mismanagement. It’s that brand value that a buyer would be paying for, and the technology, plant and equipment would almost be incidental, if not irrelevant, to the transaction. And unlike Chrysler, I doubt that the buyers of Jag and Land Rover would inherit all of the liabilities, as the buyer would require that these be retained by the seller (FoMoCo).

  • avatar

    Jaguar is a dead brand. YTD sales in the US are down 25.7% to only 7,051. For May alone, they were down 41.9% to only 1,379. Volvo’s down some (8.3% YTD), Land Rover down a tiny bit (1.8% YTD). Alone, there’s no way Jag could survive. Combined with Land Rover, maybe, but still probably not. Jaguar will become Rover at some point-it’s dead Jim. We are just watching the post-mortem twitching.

  • avatar

    BMW’s last attempt to buy and run other automotive companies hasn’t gone well. The Rover thing was a complete bust. The current Rolls Royce ownership has given us a hideous automobile while VW’s ownership of the Bentley has give us a real beauty.

    BMW’s portfolio already stretches from the Mini to BMWs and on to the Rolls. What do they need with Volvo ?????

  • avatar

    The Ford years have taken Jaguar’s brand equity into the red. With all the money Ford has put into Jaguar they still haven’t done anything worthwhile. The product efforts all look to have been conceived by committees. Those same decision makers gave us the modern T-bird and the Lincoln Blackwood.

    PAG was a bad idea from day 1 and the consequences are simply playing out. It really is a mess. Perhaps Ford will end up paying people to simply take the distractions of their hands. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    The bigger question is whether the Ford-Mercury-Lincoln brands have what it takes to go forward under their own power. There isn’t an ounce of honest excitement for ANY of the brands products in the US. The F150 has fallen behind GM, the Fusion is an Accord wannabe designed by Mazda and built in Mexico, the minivan is dead, the Edge isn’t even replacing the old Explorers volume, the Free____s are a disaster, Lincoln is a joke, Mercury’s best point is their spokesmodel and so on. The whole enterprise is one great big collection of also rans. Ford’s North American revenues are reported to be down around 30% from recent highs, which means over $30B less money coming in the front door. There are no signs that this massive sales dive is slowing. GM of all things seems better positioned to be the last man standing of the US based auto companies.

    Shut the whole thing down tomorrow and the customer base will not really be missing anything. A few Mustang buffs will be upset and the police will have to finally start buying 1990s or later technology, but life will go on with only the employees missing FoMoCo.

  • avatar

    Jaguar will become Rover at some point

    You may very well be right, but I’d say that’s up for debate. Jag is a lot like MINI was BMW acquired it — dead, but blessed with enough of an untapped legacy to be revived.

    The current Jag lineup in its present form does not fulfill its brand potential, in my opinion. Its future, if it has one, is that of a boutique brand, ala Maserati, Lambo, Aston Martin, etc. Small can be profitable, if the brand is strong and the product is focused, as Porsche has made clear to all of us.

  • avatar

    BMW kept the Mini name and built a new car around the name, and sold from BMW dealers in many instances.

    Jaguars are here now, and not selling, its a generation that Jaguar is not selling enough cars to generate a profit.

    When Land Rover comes out with a new model sales temporarily spike up, then its back to “normal” again. BMW and Ford have both taken a crack at Land Rover.

    Volvo under Ford is following the same direction as the others, Volvo no longer knows what Volvo should be, and the competition is taking advantage of the situation.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Ford ruined Volvo, hard to say where they may fit now.

    I have to respectfully disagree. Volvo quality was swirling back in the mid-90’s with the move to FWD. Reliability was atrocious. Whereas the old 2 and 7/9 series’ were icons of reliability, the 850 and S70 were horrible, and the basic marketing premise was which size box do you want?

    Ford’s efforts have not only more than doubled Volvo’s line up, but their marketing share and reliability as well. Not bad.

    Although people are screaming that BMW needs to grab Volvo, the only problem I see is that BMWs (and MINIs) aren’t too reliable themselves, and cost a shit load to fix. I don’t see Volvo-philes going for that.

    The bigger question is whether the Ford-Mercury-Lincoln brands have what it takes to go forward under their own power. There isn’t an ounce of honest excitement for ANY of the brands products in the US.

    Again, I disagree. I think product-wise Ford is the only “domestic” about to kick the door in.

    The F150 has fallen behind GM – a refreshening is coming, and point for point the Ford is very competitive to the GMs.

    the Fusion is an Accord wannabe designed by Mazda and built in Mexico – and a great platform to build off of. Better than the Camcord? Maybe not. But every way their equal.

    the minivan is dead – agreed. The Freestar was the least competitive new product I’ve seen in a long time (with the noted exception of the GM quads with the nose job. Just as irrelevant to the market).

    The new the Edge isn’t even replacing the old Explorers volume – I don’t think anything that big and heavy will these days. Gas is $3 a gallon. Our foolish SUV fling is most definately over. What the Edge is, however, is a looker. My euro-snob wife thinks it’s drop-dead gorgeous and wants to trade her Lexus in for one next year.

    the Free____s are a disaster – I can’t disagree. Although I’m not crazy about the Taurus X name, two friends of mine bought Freestyles, and frankly I’m quite impressed with the packaging , quality and safety record. The added power wasn’t all that necessary in my mind, but I guess it can’t hurt. The more agressive styling certainly is needed. Ditto on the Five Hundred/Taurus, an excellent package based on, again, price, reliability and safety.

    Lincoln is a joke – I agree, but look forward to Ford jacking them up big time. A new Town Car would be a start – big, bold, American. I like the MKZ and MKX….I’m waiting to see the MKS before I pass judgement. The TC and a performance convertible should be the priorities I feel.

    Mercury’s best point is their spokesmodel – I’d hit it. The Mercury styling doesn’t do much for me, but I’ve read several reviews that have been very positive about the badge engineering (for example, I personally liked the Montego better than the 500. Classier. But the rest of the line is too……feminine. Which I guess is their point). Would still love to see a Cougar based on the Mustang platform, with a greatly upgraded interior.

    Again, and this is from someone who hasn’t bought a “domestic” car in 25 years, I believe Ford is at the cusp of great things (albeit in a reduced market) based on what’s been recently released, and what’s coming down the shoot. Now all they have to do is make the Focus based on the next-gen Mazda3 and they’d be complete.

  • avatar

    Last year, Ford lost $12.7b. The Blue Oval doesn’t break out PAG’s numbers, but insiders suggest the European brands lost $2.32b of that total. Volvo broke even last year and Land Rover climbed into the black. Aston Martin has moved on, leaving the cat holding the bag.

    Am I the only one who read this paragraph? If the numbers are true, Ford’s problem is NOT PAG. It’s the North American operation. People have stopped buying F-150s and Explorers, and no amount of Fusions and Mustangs can make up the per-unit profit, thus the epic quantities of red ink. Why analysts continue to blame Jaguar and Land Rover for Ford’s woes continues to mystify me. Granted, Jaguar continues to lose money, but it did so even when Ford last announced a for-real profit (2005, IIRC).

    For those haters who like to blame Ford for everything, just look at Aston Martin. Prior to acquisition Aston made dozens of cars. Last year, they sold 5000. Sure, Ford sold Aston, but not before making it a success like it had never ever been.

    Bottom line: fix whatever is wrong with North American sales (I know, a HUGE problem) and nobody bothers to care about PAG.

  • avatar

    Jaguar died with Sir William Lyons.

    Ford’s been keeping the zombie stumbling forward with a steady diet of dollars and brains. Somebody, please put us out of our misery and bury this corpse already!


  • avatar

    Jaguar died with Sir William Lyons.

    Very true. Jaguar was very much the long shadow of that one man, and the many who have tried to run it since simply are not up to the job. Lyons made cars which in their day had so much emotional appeal and were such a relative bargain that the customers put up with oil leaks and spotty reliability just to be part of something so passionate. Ferrari owners, Corvette owners and high dollar German car owners today continue to make the same kind of tradeoff, they let go of the rational and embrace the passionate. Jaguar hasn’t made a real passion filled automobile in decades, and nobody at Ford even knows what I’m talking about!

    Committees and making-the-rounds-of-corporate-principalities politician/managers know nothing of such things.

    I believe Ford is at the cusp of great things (albeit in a reduced market) based on what’s been recently released, and what’s coming down the shoot.

    Outside of trucks, the Ford-Mercury-Lincoln brands mean absolutely nothing in the US market today. They don’t stand for quality, value, style, passion or anything else. Decades of managment turmoil and mixed messages have made them irrelevant. Hyundai stands for pretty good vehicles with great warranties at a bargain price. Toyota stands for dependability, resale value and never having to explain your choice. Honda is the mass market company run by engineers who do things mostly the way and engineer would. BMW makes the best driving cars in the world.

    What the **** does Ford stand for???????? Any large company which doesn’t have a clear and compeling reason for being is doomed.

  • avatar

    As often as British cars break, you would think the parts sales would keep them afloat :)

    Landy needs to move Defender production to India or China and recreate their global SUV dominance. You can only sell so many RR’s and LR3’s. The LR2 has some promise, but it’s just too much money for a car that has nothing special but the badge. A Defender with a small, simple diesel is just what soooo many people in the world need.

    Toyota should buy Jaguar and Lotus. Let them build chassis with Toyota guts and their own metal and suspensions.

  • avatar

    Toyota owning Jaguar or Lotus would be as bad as Ford owning them. For all the things Toyota is good at, passion ain’t it!

  • avatar

    If the numbers are true, Ford’s problem is NOT PAG. It’s the North American operation. People have stopped buying F-150s and Explorers, and no amount of Fusions and Mustangs can make up the per-unit profit, thus the epic quantities of red ink. Why analysts continue to blame Jaguar and Land Rover for Ford’s woes continues to mystify me.

    I don’t think there is any question that Ford North America is the company’s biggest liability, but it is also (unfortunately) the company’s bread and butter… The PAG, whether doing well or poorly, is not ever going be more than a small buffer or a minor drag against the prevailing success of the larger Ford company. Jettisoning Jag is getting rid of dead weight, while losing Land Rover is no great loss by itself.

    Without a functioning North American operation, Ford’s future is still death by a thousand cuts. As long as the company is losing money on a per-sale basis with their high-volume core brand(s), they have no chance. Losing PAG at least forces them to focus their resources on the real problem.

  • avatar

    Jaguar still has a puncher’s chance.

    I agree with those that state that the brand still has enough untapped legacy to turn things around if superior product is presented with a cat on it’s nose. A few great vehicles, including an E, 5-Series, M, et al. fighter, and a sexy topless speedster and I think Jaguar will show real signs of life. Car fans WANT to see the classic brands succeed. The cat hasn’t worn out it’s welcome yet in my opinion, but Ford is probably breathing air above it’s pay grade going after what should be the Jag target market. Letting it go would be better for both sides.

    Land Rover is a niche brand in a class of automobiles that is going the way of the dodo in my opinion. Gas prices, Green House gas debates, The inevitable draconian increase of fuel efficiency standards, etc. really make the task of reviving a large SUV anchored label a sisyphean task. Unloading it should be a no brainer. I can’t think of a brand that could do too much with it.

    Ford should probably keep Volvo. I don’t agree with the folks that say it’s a good fit with BMW. I think the goals of the two labels are simply too far apart for them to play “soul mate”. Ford should keep the swede so they can poach Euro-snobs in the same fashion that Mazda helps them to poach j-heads.

  • avatar

    “What the **** does Ford stand for????????”

    I think Ford is now starting to play Volvo’s “safety card” with the new Taurus. It would not make too much sense to sell Volvo now…Wouldn’t look good. So watch for Ford to sell Volvo…..

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Hmmm… a few practicalities are in order here.

    1) Ford will do whatever it can to KEEP Ford. Volvo won’t be on the table for now. The Lincoln name has a better chance of being sold than Volvo due to the bottom line.

    2) Ford is being killed by a variety of factors that have already been highlighted ad nauseum. However a look at the NA product line tells the story in a way that no generalities can justify.

    Focus: A leader that was stymied by Ford’s inability to maintain a world car standard. If the European Focus were built on this side of the Atlantic we wouldn’t be considering this model as an also-ran with negative brand equity.

    Ranger: Another one of Billy Ford’s unloved progeny destroyed by the neglect of an elitist idiot.

    Taurus, Town Car, Continental, Crown Victoria, Thunderbird, Sable, Grand Marquis, Cougar, and any other name brand car that Ford sold in the 6 figures during the 1990’s (sans Mustang): Ditto!

    I will say that Billy was smart to not go forward with another Capri or Probe. That little I’ll give him.

    Fusion: It will struggle because the front fascia is ugly. I actually like it better than the Camry and the Accord… but the styling is completely discombobulated due primarily to the triple blade.

    Milan: I wish the front fascia of this car had a heavy chrome option. If this model had been sold as the Fusion with a nicer material for the front, it would have been a strong contender from the folks in Dearborn.

    Oh, one other thing. Don’t be surprised if the Escape Hybrid outsells the Prius for a month or two. Compact SUV’s are incredibly hot at the auctions and when gas prices decline this winter, the Escape is going to be extremely popular. In fact, it already is.

  • avatar

    I drove a 96′ Continental, 110k on the clock and it run like a champ. This car never gave me any problem, even the infamous air suspension holds tight.My neighbor who’s a veteran mechanic told me 95-97 Lincoln’s are the most reliable vehicles he’s ever seen. I know, nobody take last-gen Conti seriously but IMHO good engineering wasn’t, isn’t and will not be an exclusive patent only owned by Asians. So Ford been here done that focusing your own F-M-L business back to your hey-day.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The 99 Continetal I had a little while back actually had higher review ratings on Edmunds than any Camry from the 1990’s.

    The interior materials and dashboard were a catastrophe. But the powertrain was truly fantastic. In fact, I would argue that the Continental was the nicest front wheel drive luxury car of that time if you look strictly at the powertrain and the exterior. Both of them were extremely well done. That interior though was a prime example of how cheap and insubstantial Nasser’s legions were when it came to matching the Japanese and Germans.

    The Continental could have been a contender… if it had been given the LS’s interior.

  • avatar

    BMW buying Volvo seems to be a good idea first hand – but BMW pretty much burned its hands with Rover, and has lived from its own strengths since then. I do not believe that BMW has overcome that nightmare since then – they will not once again go into such an acquisition adventure.

  • avatar

    Saying a Lincoln is better than a Camry is like saying Nordstrom is a higher class of store than a Target. It better be. But is a Lincoln better than a Lexus? No. You have to compare Fords with Toyotas and Lincolns with Lexuses to be fair.

  • avatar

    Geotpf, you are absolutely right. I can not recall how many times I was in the mood to change my ride but honestly, nothing in the market now touch me as my good ole Conti. I mean, when I saw her for the first time, I felt she was really dancing itself in the parking lot…

    Also I’m not sure, I think lexus might not be counted as an all out competitor for luxury marque. before the firestone fiasco ?

    Ford has its issues, tell me which big Corp has not. but that’s it, I don’t appreciate the idea of describing it as an evil empire.

  • avatar

    I think that Hyundai should buy Jag. They have the production capability, fit and finish and upmarket aspirations. The only thing missing is heritage and snob appeal to enable them the sell $50K cars. Jag would be a good fit.

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