Ford's Horbury Feels "Strange" About Three-Year Refreshes
Ford is accustomed to leaving products to die on the vine: Crown Victoria, Lincoln LS, Ranger, etc. Apparently, no more. Speaking to Automotive News [sub] about the Flex, Ford's design director Horbury found it "odd" that the design team is already working on a reworked design while the vehicle is still brand new. "To be working on the next one immediately is quite unnerving. It is strange, really." According to Horbury, the Flex's doors, greenhouse and glass are staying put; everything else is up to the designers. As those three elements are especially trick, we think this is the right kinda bold movement. And if you consider the money-making Mustang's countless iterations as mid-cycle refreshes, this type of thinking is doubly true. It sounds as if we can expect big changes, especially as Ford's internal research has shown that small changes aren't enough to bolster sales. Proof, pudding, time, tell.
"if you consider the money-making Mustang's countless iterations as mid-cycle refreshes" I dont. I dont understand Ford's reasoning on a new Mustang special edition every six months, but hey whatever floats your boat. However, for the 95% of Mustang buyers, the car hasnt changed since 2005. And is 2010 the update? Five years? For an update? The last gen lasted 10 years. And it got regular updates, but it LASTED TEN YEARS. Can we say 14 years on the one before that???? Granted the '87 update was pretty huge, but even that took 8 years since the '79 intro. No, Ford has a BAD history of updates. Special editions dont cut it. Every time a new model debuts, I try to guess what the two or three year update will look like. (It used to be two years for the Japanese cars, now it seems to be three.) Eg, I'm thinking the next Camry will have a smoother nose and new tailights this year. You might even be able to count on new engines if new ones dont debut in the generation changeovers. Camry as an example again, I'm anticipating a new 4 cylinder engine. (Anticpating is a strong word, since I dont actually desire Camrys, just using them as an example, but I digress...) Anyhoo...Ford needs this philosophy. 2-4-8. 2 year refresh, 4 year completely new gen, 8 year all new platform. Or even 3-5-9. Or anything remotely similar. Maybe they're finally learning.
What killed the annual facelift were rising costs for safety and pollution equipment, along with model proliferation. In 1955-57 it was easy for GM to bring out a heavily facelifted Chevrolet every year because Chevrolet sold two cars - the "standard" Chevrolet and the Corvette. By 1967, Chevrolet was selling the Corvette and the standard Chevrolet, along with the Chevelle/Malibu, the Chevy II/Nova and the Corvair. By 1971 Chevrolet would lose the Corvair, but add the Vega and the Monte Carlo. With that number of models, there was no way that GM could afford to facelift EVERY Chevrolet every year - or even every two years. Note that as Honda, for example, has introduced more new models, it has also stretched out the model cycle of the Accord and Civic from four years to five.