By on October 24, 2016

ford logo

Public disdain for small cars means Ford is going to take U.S. production behind the barn and shoot it.

That, Toyota practices good corporate citizenry, Honda worries it can’t build enough CR-Vs, and BMW Films returns with a new action-drenched short starring Clive Owen and the new 5 Series… after the break!


Ford is abandoning the small car in the U.S. and Mexico gets the scraps

Changing consumer preferences has led to Ford’s plan to end small-car production in the U.S. by 2018. With incentive spending now higher than ever on cars, the company has finally said enough is enough.

“You can only go so far in terms of trying to entice customers to purchase those kinds of products,” Ford CEO Mark Fields said in an interview with Automotive News. “We’ll focus on some of the segments where customers are migrating towards, whether it’s SUVs or pickup trucks, and we’re doing nicely there.”

Ford is still going to make small cars, but they will be produced in Mexico.

The plan isn’t meant to eliminate American jobs — it’s merely a shift of production priorities. For the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, that means no more C-Max and Focus. Instead, Ford should be repurposing the facility to produce the returning Ranger pickup and Bronco SUV. Fields didn’t confirm those vehicles specifically but claims workers there will be in a better position than they are today. Employees at the Michigan Assembly Plant have dealt with week-long layoffs due to the reduced demand for small cars.

With the Escape SUV outselling the C-Max by 23,637 units last month, and basically every other month, the shift away from small cars shouldn’t be all that surprising. In a way it’s a homecoming for the factory, as it produced the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs until 2009.

Toyota Texas HQ under construction

Toyota is trying to make a good impression on Plano, Texas

As construction on its gargantuan new U.S. headquarters continues, Toyota is making the rounds and trying to be a good corporate neighbor. According to Automotive News, the company is teaming up with the city of Plano, Texas, where the headquarters is being built, along with local municipalities, businesses, and transit agencies to conduct a study on how to reduce traffic congestion and improve public transportation.

Toyota has already given a million dollar grant to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit District to subsidize taxis for disabled and elderly residents travelling to doctor appointments. DART took over the service from a private provider that had run aground with financial issues, but immediately ran into problems itself, having only enough funding to last another 90 days.

It makes sense for a company to put its best face forward when it’s moving house and Toyota knows exactly how to do so. The Toyota Mobility Foundation has previously collaborated with nonprofit organizations and governments on dealing with urban transportation challenges and personal mobility issues.

“The philosophy that we have is really all about this idea of shared value,” said Latondra Newton, CEO for the foundation. “We can actually do great things with others in society and make a significant impact, but also bring value back into our business.”

2017 Honda CR-V

Honda can’t build CR-Vs fast enough

Honda sells a staggering number of CR-Vs and, despite its best efforts, cannot quite reach the industry-averaged 65 days worth of supply for light trucks. WardsAuto data shows CR-V supply in late September was only at 54 days.

To fix this, the company has already announced that it will send CR-V production to accompany the Civic in Greensburg, Indiana. The company also makes the immensely popular SUV in East Liberty, Ohio, and Alliston, Ontario. But CEO Takahiro Hachigo believes they could be doing even better in meeting demand. Hachigo told Automotive News that due to the forthcoming redesigned CR-V and updates on other models, Honda may consider exporting more vehicles from Japan — which often suffers from overcapacity.

“If overseas plant capacity is getting close to full, then rather than make a new investment, we might think about getting more supply from another global plant,” he said.

Like Honda, Subaru has also strained to meet demand as a result of increasingly good sales this year. Subaru’s U.S. market share has doubled compared to five years ago, and it could have done even better had it been prepared to meet the growing demand. Honda, which sells vehicles at a much higher volume than Subaru, knows this and doesn’t want to be caught with its pants around its ankles.

BMW Films with Owen

BMW Films takes us on another joyride 

Back after a long hiatus since The Hire wrapped up in 2002, BMW Films’ first offering of The Escape web series went up on YouTube yesterday. It features Clive Owen reprising his role as the calmest BMW driver in existence and features Dakota Fanning mumbling nonsense in the backseat amidst one of the best getaways cinema can offer.

But Fanning is really more of a supporting character, Owen’s real co-star of the action-oriented short film is the 2017 BMW 5 Series. It hurdles down off ramps and gracefully skids around everything the police and generic baddies can throw at it. Although one does wonder how the protagonist managed to snag the new 5-Series before it has even gone on sale.

While it’s not big on character development or exposition, director Neill Blomkamp of District 9 fame was still thoughtful enough to include a story — and that story assertively crams about as much action as it can into the ten minute runtime.

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21 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: Ford Is Building Cars in Mexico Because You Won’t Buy Them...”

  • avatar

    Ford isn’t taking away jobs in America…but they aren’t adding any, either (at least when it comes to small car production).

    • 0 avatar

      This is a savvy move by Ford, shifting small car producting permanently to the Third World at the perfect time to minimize bad publicity.

      As long as gas prices are low, they can make it sound like they’re doing American workers a favor by keeping the high-margin products here.

      When gas prices rise, as they inevitably will sooner or later, Ford will have already moved out the production of the cars that will sell well then. They can lay off all the American workers, shrug helplessly that it’s not their fault the big trucks fell out of public favor, and largely escape the backlash because enough people will believe it.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    What would you choose to produce? Protected and/or more subsidised production or attempt to compete on an “open” segment?

  • avatar

    “Honda can’t build CR-Vs fast enough”

    I bask in the warmth and plenty of my herd.

  • avatar
    George B

    DART buses are mostly empty rolling yellow traffic obstructions with billboards on their sides here in Plano, TX. Toyota could improve Plano traffic by replacing some buses with Toyota Sienna minivans. What seems to work here is to add a bunch of turn lanes at every intersection.

    • 0 avatar

      DART is taking over the failed TAPS service in Plano and other cities in Collin County, and that’s where Toyota’s money is going. As for the empty buses, DART has tried to mitigate things by switching some routes for airport shuttle type buses. Since Plano is part of DART’s service area, they are required to provide some kind of bus service.

      There’s a lot of demand for the openings at Toyota HQ – it’s been reported in the local media that there are 19,000 applicants for 1,000 positions.

  • avatar

    Are the crvs produced in the other markets the same? Or do they have different indicators and a km/h dash etc

    • 0 avatar

      Obviously if they’re producing CR-Vs in Japan for export to the US they make a few changes. In that case they are made with MPH, all English dashes and the steering wheel on the correct side and US DOT approved lights and indicators. While it’s possible some parts might have different suppliers or whatever, you’ll probably have to look at the place of origin on the window sticker to tell one from the other.

      • 0 avatar

        I have a 2008 Japan built CRV. I went to my dealer to replace a broken splash shield on the wheel well. The dealer said the Japanese part is different than the USA (East Liberty) and Mexico built one.

        I also had to repair my CRV after a crash, the body shop list showed a lot of “Japan built” part indicators.

    • 0 avatar

      I was looking at the Civic hatch recently and checked out a CR-V. I was surprised that it was built in Alliston and was sitting on a lot in Southern Maine. I thought one of the U.S. plants would have built it for the U.S. market, but I guess they’re building them wherever they can find capacity.

  • avatar

    I always favored that generation’s 740i sport version. It’s an everlasting shame those old school BMWs are uneconomical to maintain after 100,000K…..

  • avatar

    Traffic impact mitigation is nothing new around here, it is required for approval of major projects all the time.

  • avatar

    As Hank the Duce (IIRC) said: “Small cars, small profits.”

    Obviously a product with small profit margins needs to have low production costs.

  • avatar

    Mmmm.Maybe people aren’t buying small Ford cars because of their experience with the notorious DCT. Hey Ford people have very long memories.

    • 0 avatar

      I dumped my 13 Fiesta after the 3rd transmission started acting up. Carmax gave me $2500 more than any other dealer. I am enjoying my 14 Buick Encore…should have bought that in the first place.

  • avatar

    I hope the Focus ST survives the trip south of the border. The ST – especially the base model without the Recaro seats, is probably the best performance bang for the buck out there. And it’s also a practical four door hatch that you can “sell” to your skeptical significant other.

  • avatar

    I like the new “Hire” film, and thought Fanning’s “mumbling” was integral to the plot, but… to each his own. Not sure why the old one is linked and imbedded when the new one is on YouTube.

  • avatar

    I can’t help but think, yeah, but small Fords are all kind of crappy. They seem to have a lot of reliability issues and they’re all cursed with MyFordTouch. In light of that, it’s no surprise they’re not selling well in the U.S.

  • avatar

    This is a no-brainer already sanctioned by Ford’s unions, as Ford kept the high margin vehicles manufactured in the USA.

  • avatar

    Ford isn’t building cars here because, just like everything else they make, they don’t know how to.

    The only way Ford knows how to increase the profitability of a vehicle program is to lower the quality of the vehicle. Cheap interiors, unreliable drive trains, poor headlights, etc. So a more accurate title would be, “Ford is moving small cars to Mexico because they can’t lower the quality any further”.

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