Ford Has a Brainwave: Build the Cars People Want to Buy

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
ford has a brainwave build the cars people want to buy

Ford tells us that J.D. Power tells them that “30 percent of new vehicle shoppers who walk away from a dealership do so because the dealer did not have the exact vehicle with the colors and options they wanted.” Yeah, right. That what they say… Never mind. As suspicious as this factoid may be, Ford has decided it should use one of them there computer-type things to “determine the vehicle configurations customers in different regions of the country most want.” And once they do that, why not “significantly reduce the number of orderable combinations across its vehicle lineup”? You know; like, I’m thinking… Honda! “For example, the new 2010 Ford Fusion will be available in 104 popular orderable combinations, compared with 2,602 configurations for the 2008 model year. For the entire Ford brand, the company has reduced orderable configurations by 90 percent from the 2008 model year.” No seriously. This makes sense. It’s a good sign the lights are [still] on in Dearborn. Long overdue.

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  • Taxman100 Taxman100 on Oct 30, 2008

    I compare the ordering options available on my 67 Ford Galaxie vs. a 09 Grand Marquis, or an 09 Sable, and wonder if we have really made any progress. If they could do it in 1967 with clunky old technology, why not now? It makes it easier for the manfacturer, but not for me.

  • Geeber Geeber on Oct 30, 2008
    taxman100: I compare the ordering options available on my 67 Ford Galaxie vs. a 09 Grand Marquis, or an 09 Sable, and wonder if we have really made any progress. On the 1967 Galaxie, virtually EVERYTHING was optional. Air conditioning, disc brakes, power brakes, power steering, a radio, nicer upholstery - virtually all of those had to be ordered at extra cost. Today people don't want to spend time wading through a thick book of options. They expect the basic car to be wheel-equipped. Plus, adding options makes it more difficult to determine the invoice price for the car. Today, most buyers want to pick the trim level and the color, and then get down to haggling about the price. And Honda still allows SOME personalization of the car - it's just that the options are dealer-installed. If you want different wheels, for example, the dealer will install them right there.
  • Kendahl Kendahl on Oct 30, 2008

    It's going to take more than that. I don't want front wheel drive. Therefore, no matter how many trim combinations Ford offers in FWD, I'm not going to buy one. On the other hand, I will and have waited three months for a car to be built exactly to my specifications. In Japan, there is a custom bicycle manufacturer who builds only to special order. In the showroom, the salesman determines the correct dimensions to perfectly fit the customer and sends the data to the factory. The finished bicycle is ready three days later. Actually, they could just as easily offer next day delivery. However, they believe that waiting a couple of days intensifies the customer's experience.

  • Fallout11 Fallout11 on Oct 31, 2008

    As a side note, every single climate control unit (AC/heater/fancoil/etc) built and sold by Trane/American Standard is custom built from the ground up with a bewildering array of thousands of options, down to the color of the exterior cabinet to the number of loops in the heater coil. Yet they make money and have for nearly a century. Hmmmmm.