Detroit Free Press Tries to Call Ford Flex A Flop; Fails

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
detroit free press tries to call ford flex a flop fails

The Detroit Free Press’ Mark Phelan is one of Motown’s most reliable cheerleaders. So it was no surprise when Phelan gushed all over the new Ford Flex back in August. “The 300,000-plus people who used to buy Ford Explorer SUVs every year are the group who will decide whether the Flex experiment pays off. If 80,000 to 120,000 of them year plunk down $35K or more for the Flex, Ford’s future immediately starts to look brighter.” Notice the if? Ah, but then… “It should.” Anyway, big whoop. Phelan does this shit for a living. But why did fellow Freep Sarah Webster shiv Phelan in this morning’s paper? “ Boxy Ford Flex isn’t selling as expected in brutal market” is the most ambivalent mea culpa I’ve ever encountered (other than Richard Nixon’s remarks to David Frost). Phelan’s fellow scribe starts by cataloguing the carnage. “Earlier this year, {Ford marketing maven Jim] Farley said Ford hoped to sell between 70,000 and 100,000 of the Flex crossovers annually. At its current selling rate, though, Ford would sell about 24,000 a year.” Then she recaps Phelan’s positive review, and other positive reviews, and customers’ positive reviews. So what gives? Bad marketing! Cue Farley’s black-is-white PR thing: “Farley said the market conditions are so bad that it’s tough to tell how the Flex would be selling otherwise. Putting aside the lower-than-expected sales volume, Farley said the Flex has actually been a success.” In other words, the operation’s a success but the patient’s dead. Focus people! Focus!

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  • Guyincognito Guyincognito on Oct 07, 2008

    @ P71_CrownVic: You are absolutely right. There is no way the tooling is paid off on any of Ford's D3 variants. Mullaly has the business sense but Ford has no product guru, which is why they will continue to fail. Mark Fields is way out of his league and the D3 failures are proof positive. I mean Horbury and Jay Mays aren't helping but these vehicles are all several decisions away from being great.

  • Brapoza Brapoza on Oct 07, 2008

    Would it be safe to say that the days of the $35-40K car loan for the average American's transportation needs is over for now. Just wondering. I mean regardless of how nice the vehicle is or isn't.

  • Whatdoiknow1 Whatdoiknow1 on Oct 07, 2008

    One of the biggest misconception that is plaguing the domestics is this silly notion that Americans do not like Mini-vans. The problem is Americans have never liked GM or Ford minivans and now are no longer in love with the Chysler products, BUT they do seem to have hard-ons for the Odyessy and Seinna. Folks love these things and appear to be willing to drop 40 large on the loaded models in large numbers. I would say that at least 1 in 4 Odyessy and Seinnas that I see are the "top of the line" Touring or XLE Limited models. In the suburban seen these "loaded" mini-vans are somewhat of a status symbol. Whenever Ford and GM can not succeed in a market segement in this country we start to here talk about how "Americans" do not like that particular class of vehicles. Nevermind that other manufacturers are somehow successful with products like wagons and Mini-vans, if folks do not like what GM and Ford are offering "we do not get it!" Ford has spent the last 20 years "screwing the mini-van pooch" Aerostar, Winistar, and Freestar have all been craptacular! So must folks no longer even think about Ford when it comes to this type of vehicle. Considering that folks showed just about ZERO interest in the Freestyle Ford should have been smart enough to know they are NOT a player in that segment. Folks simply do NOT wants these types of Ford products, there are far too many other "better" alternatives to choose from.

  • on Oct 07, 2008
    Hitman1970: My wife cannot get past the exterior. If we replace her Freestyle with another three row vehicle, it will be with a GM Lambda based crossover. She really likes the Enclave and the Outlook. Your wife is a very smart person.