By on December 6, 2016

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An evolving lineup that matches consumer demand is the hallmark of any healthy automaker, and Ford has no problem dropping unpopular models.

That’s the message delivered by Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, who hinted that changes could be in store for the company’s car lineup in the face of a crossover and SUV-hungry marketplace.

Speaking with Automotive News yesterday, Hinrichs said the automaker’s focus is on growing its SUV portfolio.

“Over time, there should be some pruning of the portfolio to support growth in other areas,” he said. “We certainly intend to have a strong car base as well; we don’t know where the market’s going to go. But there will be some pruning over time as there should be in a nameplate and portfolio.”

Hinrichs’ comments come at a scary time for the traditional passenger car. Once the reigning queen of the automotive landscape, the segment has nosedived as more and more consumers choose boxy, do-everything utility vehicles. Sales of midsize cars are down 12 percent year-to-date, representing just 12 percent of the market. Compact cars saw their sales slip 5.5 percent YTD, while subcompacts fell 2.9 percent.

Overall, the passenger car market has retracted by 9.1 percent in 2016.

At Ford, the small-car numbers aren’t any better. Actually, they’re worse than the industry average. Through the end of November, Focus sales are 17.2 percent lower than at this time last year, while the Fiesta is down 26.1 percent. Fusion and Taurus sales have fallen 10 and 11 percent, respectively.

Unfortunately, Hinrichs wasn’t dishing details on Ford’s plan to firm up its passenger car line. The company already builds the Fiesta in Mexico, with the Focus tapped to join it very soon. Already, there’s a plan afoot to simplify Focus production, lowering costs on top of the savings realized by Mexican production.

The slow-selling C-Max hybrid will soldier until both it and the Focus vacate the Michigan Assembly Plant in 2018, with its role replaced by the upcoming Model E electric. Overseas, Ford broadened the Fiesta’s appeal by introducing lifestyle-oriented variants of the next-generation model, including a faux crossover Active model. We’re not sure yet whether the next-gen Fiesta is America-bound, but “soft-roader” variants of small cars are a growing niche.

As for the Fusion, it’s still a strong contender in the shrinking midsize segment. That leaves the Taurus, known mostly for its law enforcement fleet sales, as a potential candidate for the chopping block. Well, the retail version, anyways.

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72 Comments on “Ford is Prepared to Cut Models, and They Sure Won’t Be SUVs...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Sure, I engaged in celebratory gunfire over the first 20 or 30 articles about sedans and littler crampy cars going away but even I think it’s getting tired now. It’s only news if we don’t already know it.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    Bye bye Taurus and C-Max. Those seem pretty obvious even without reading the article.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      In NA, at least. MPVs like the non-hybrid C-Max are an integral part of the EU market. There, they can support a sedan/hatchback/wagon, van, MPV, and CUV in the B-, C-, and D-segments.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete Zaitcev

        So, the problem is that they don’t have anything left to cut. They need the KA+, even (for 3rd word). And the B-, C-, S-MAX are all in demand in EU.

        • 0 avatar
          WallMeerkat

          Doesn’t mean they’ll axe those models in the EU, just won’t produce or export them for the NA market.

          Though I’ve never seen the point of having both the Smax and the Galaxy large MPVs – could see one of these getting the chop, and the EcoSport effectively replacing the Bmax.

  • avatar
    Tumbling-Dice

    Well, the Taurus is probably dead. Again. They haven’t announced it, but I’m nearly convinced it’s happening. The Taurus is ancient and there has been absolutely no news about a replacement – even though there is a new Chinese market Taurus all ready to go.

    It’s rather sad in my eyes. All that hullabaloo Ford – and especially Alan Mulally – put forth about reintroducing the Taurus has been for naught since they have let it wither. Sure fullsize sales are shrinking, but there is still plenty of profit to be made from them when the new model from China is built on the same platform that underpins ten other models.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      If the China Taurus and the American one are on the same platform.. I don’t see it going anywhere.. Between fleet government and rental and police version they probably sell close to 150,000

      • 0 avatar
        Higheriq

        For North America only, the Taurus/Police Interceptor have sold ~40K so far this year. That figure includes fleet, government, and retail.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        It’s not on the D3 / D4 platform with the Taurus. The Chinese version is on the CD4.3 platform; in essence, it’s a stretched Ford Fusion. The new Lincoln Continental is on this same architecture.

        The Explorer will soon be redesigned, probably on some CD4.x platform; the Flex is getting axed; the MKS may continue for a little while, but it’s as good as gone, the MKT is, I believe, getting replaced with some RWD crossover to once again don the Aviator name. Once the Taurus goes, that will be it for the D3 / D4 platformers.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          “The Explorer will soon be redesigned, probably on some CD4.x platform”

          Explorer uses the same platform for 2018. We will not see an all new one until 2020 which is to become RWD.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            You’re right. And I guess Ford has no reason to redesign the Explorer when it just had a very successful refresh and sells like hotcakes.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          The MKS has already been removed from production.

          For as old as it is, the Taurus still outsells the Chrysler 300 and the Buick LaCrosse, not to mention the Hyundai Azerea and Kia Cadenza, both of which tend to sell more in the hundreds, not thousands.

          Popular opinion here always has maintained that they screwed it up when they went from the lightly refreshed Five Hundred 2008/9 models to the stylish 2010+, but for each year between 2010 and 2014, it outsold the 08/09 handily, and not all of those were police interceptors, as that model wasn’t introduced until later. Some years, it even out sold its fleet-heavy predecessor from the 05/06 era.

          I see a lot of civilian Taurus out on the road, and its not like other brands don’t dump their full size cars into fleets as well.

          Its a dying segment here, and it won’t surprise me if the Taurus (and 300, Azerea, Cadenza, etc) end up with a date with an axe in the next few years. It just isn’t worth redesigning models people are turning away from. The all-new Maxima *barely* outsells it now (it didn’t before). That does not bode well for the segment in general.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            For 2015 the Taurus did not outsell the Chrysler 300, and 2016 YTD Chrysler has sold 10,000 more than Ford.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            Other than the poor visibility, I actually don’t dislike the Taurus. The problem is that the Fusion is just a better car all-around.

        • 0 avatar
          Johnster

          It’s really more likely that the new Lincoln Aviator will be based on the same CD4.x-based platform as the new Explorer.

      • 0 avatar
        AG4

        The All-new Chinese Taurus is built on an extended version of the CD4 platform used by the smaller mid-size Fusion/Mondeo/MKZ and the even larger Continental.

    • 0 avatar
      thunderjet

      I agree. A Ford car lineup of Fiesta/Focus/Fusion with a CUV derived from each platform is fine for Ford. If full size cars make a comeback they can stretch the Fusion platform. Plus as long as you have CUVs there is cost sharing between the CUV and sedan, so it’s a win-win.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        “If full size cars make a comeback they can stretch the Fusion platform. ”

        They did. That’s what the Chinese-market Taurus is, a stretched Fusion. So is the Lincoln Continental. But really, the full-sized market is mostly dead. The Fusion is roomy enough to serve as the Ford brand’s largest family sedan, so it makes sense to axe the Taurus and not bring in a replacement. Overall, aside from a few glaring faults, I would say that Ford is definitely the D3 automaker with the best business sense, both in terms of creating new markets, exploiting existing ones, and innovating current products.

        • 0 avatar
          thunderjet

          Forgot about the Continental being on a stretched Fusion/MKZ platform. Thanks for reminding me. I’m also reminded that I’ll need to try and sit in one at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show…

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I suspect Focus sales would be better if Ford dropped the dual clutch automatic in favor or either a conventional automatic or a CVT.

    • 0 avatar
      Higheriq

      Or the manual transmission, which REALLY is the one to buy anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      They have some options, even with the DCT. They could give it a wet clutch, or go the Acura route and just give it a torque converter. It’s not like they are getting fast shifts out of it, and with aggressive lockup strategies TCs are basically as efficient as clutches. But at that point they might as well do a regular planetary auto. Just develop an 8AT and deploy it across the brand.

      • 0 avatar
        thunderjet

        Didn’t Ford/GM jointly develop a 9 speed FWD automatic transmission? If so that might be an option to replace the DCT in the Focus. Unless it’s too big for the Focus chassis.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I rarely see a new Taurus on the road anymore (I saw a current-gen SHO yesterday). Kill it off already. If they needed to, they could do a stretched Fusion, the way that Toyota created the Avalon.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Profit is king. Either you can amortize platform costs and make a profit on each unit sold, or you can’t. If a model is not profitable then it has no reason to exist.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that maybe there will be a “coming with length” version of the Fusion to occupy the Taurus slot – like how the Avalon is an extended version of the Camry.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I think that’s the most logical way forward. And offer the NA 3.7 in it as an upper-trim motor (and/or EB 2.7)

      The current Taurus is neither fish nor fowl. Biggest pluses in my mind are the fantastically huge trunk and their cheap prices used. Duratec 35 is a good strong motor. $15k for a 2 year old 30k mile ex-fleet SEL with heated leather seats is definitely a pretty good deal. Minuses include a less than comfortable rear seat (bolt upright, merely adequate legroom), weird driving position up front where it feels like you’re sitting “on top” of the seat rather than in it. Can’t say the ride is particularly well sorted or cushy for such a heavy beast, Chrysler’s LX cars do a much better job of that IMO. Horrendous rear visibility as well. My feelings on the exterior are mixed. It definitely has some ‘presence’ in black or dark grey, the fact that cops drive them helps. But again, you want presence, get a Charger and be done with it. Fusion covers all the same bases aside from massive trunk space in a much more lithe and better packaged vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The current Taurus is now the “people who buy cars by the pound” choice. Previously it was the old W-body Impala.

        Even a SHO can be had for stupid cheap used compared to what it sold for new.

      • 0 avatar
        krohde

        I’ve never been in such a big car that felt so small. The center console is baffling in its size.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Thing is, the Fusion depreciates just as badly…and it’s a roomier, safer, and more-modern car, one that you can actually see out of. I can get a loaded 2013-2014 Fusion Titanium any day for the mid-high teens.

        What the Taurus does have going for it is that old-school feel coupled with a rock-solid naturally-aspirated V6, but like you said, the LX cars are better at that, and have more design presence. And even though I don’t like Chrysler very much, I admit that the LXs are about as reliable as the Taurus.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    Last May when I bought my Mustang I also test drove a Ford Fusion Energi. I know it’s a weird cross shop, but I decided to at least consider acting like a grown adult and wanted to see what it would be like to drive a proper family car with an automatic and everything. Also, I felt it fair to give my wife the chance to really like it and insist on me getting such a car. I have to say, I kind of liked it. I can’t say that I regret buying the Mustang over it, but if my family had insisted I wouldn’t be unhappy in it.

    As it turns out, my wife said that I was free to buy whatever I like and I just can’t give up my irrational preference for sporty 2+2’s and I am just not ready to give up manual transmissions. So Mustang it is.

    For the record though, I personally would never be interested in a CUV. I don’t like to sit up that high and I prefer to have a trunk over a hatch.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The Taurus is the obvious car on the chopping block. It’s place in the lineup has been mostly supplanted by the Fusion, and the poor Taurus is riding on an ancient platform anyway. I’d expect the Flex to die for the same reason. Then the next Explorer can go aluminum and get a Lincoln companion to replace the MKT.

    Replacing the C-Max with a dedicated electrified vehicle is the way to go. The C-Max wasn’t intended to be hybrid, as evidenced by the battery pack eating up most of the trunk. The C-Max isn’t even really needed as a small van now that the Transit Connect comes in a decent passenger version.

    Ford will have a nice passenger car line up with the Fiesta/Focus/Fusion – all with CUV companions and with the Fiesta and Focus now made in lower labor cost countries. So no matter what happens with the price of oil, Ford will be ok, unlike FCA.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Apparently everyone here has already forgotten the Flex and gotten over it’s inevitable death.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Wow, the fact that nobody even mentioned it is kind of sad. But that would kind of counter the sentiment that Ford is focusing on SUVs. That whole platform is kind of DOA. EUCD all the things bigger than a Focus/Escape.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      It’s not that we’ve forgotten it or gotten over it, it’s that we already know it’s gonna be gone by 2020.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Personally I’m counting the amount of time I have remaining to purchase one. I’ll likely be one of those “final model year of production” purchasers. Given their solid resale value it would be relatively foolish to buy one used.

        • 0 avatar
          Chocolatedeath

          This…I will be one of those guys as well Dan. 2020 is just around the corner. I plan to buy around the end of 2019 or my Birth month in 2020 of Feb.

        • 0 avatar
          krohde

          Solid resale value? There’s loaded <3 year old Flexes that stickered for 50K available for <30K all day long. I love the Flex and will probably buy one too but it'll be a used one.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @krohde, sorry loaded isn’t my MO generally. In my area (the Southwest) a vehicle that was a bit above $30K new for the no so well equipped models is still being advertised for mid 20s after 2 or 3 years. (s/ Maybe its because we have all those big Mormon families around here.)

            That’s not big depreciation in my book.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Funny…my wife mentioned a Flex (albeit used) as a potential replacement next year for our Escape.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    The Taurus – especially in SHO trim – is a car I really, really wanted to like. On paper it’s mighty fine, but in person I just can’t get past the narrow but very long body. It’s like a Panther that has been been only partially put through a crusher.

    When I rode in a co-worker’s SEL, I wasn’t very impressed by the legroom I had in front (I’m 6’2″ which makes a lot of cars I should like uncomfortable).

  • avatar
    jthorner

    The Taurus is too expensive for the interior space it offers. The Fusion occupies the market segment the original Taurus practically defined in the later 1980s. Today’s Taurus is like a 1986 Fox platform LTD … a car made irrelevant by other cars in the lineup.

    As others have said, the Flex is dead meat. Too expensive and too large. Had the Flex been 10% smaller in all dimensions and 20% cheaper it could have been the classic modern reincarnation of the Volvo 240 wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Same old arguments.

      The sticker price for the Taurus is a tad high. The street price, you get more features for your $ than you do with a Fusion. Try equipping a Fusion similar to a base Taurus SEL and chances are the Fusion will cost more, out the door.

      I sat in the new Lincoln Continental yesterday. The interior is more narrow than the Taurus (likely because it’s based on a stretched Fusion platform). The belly aching about interior space on the Taurus is a bunch of exaggeration.

      I agree that it’s likely on the chopping block, due to poor sales. Too bad, as it’s a pretty darn good vehicle. Better than the at least as expensive Fusion (and I really do like the Fusion).

      What I’ll miss most of all is the NA 3.5L. It’s a good engine and I’m not thrilled about ecoboost for a number of reasons.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “The belly aching about interior space on the Taurus is a bunch of exaggeration.”

        No, the rear seat stinks and not necessarily due to the okay-ish rear legroom (there is subjectively more in a Camry). The rear seat is uncomfortably upright, the super high belt-line impedes rear passenger visibility.

        For something with such huge external dimensions and such a high curb weight, the interior room is terrible. Ford took the fantastically roomy Five Hundred and sacrificed it at the altar of chop-stop styling.

        • 0 avatar
          jthorner

          Yep, the Five Hundred made much better use of space.

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          I agree that for it’s size, the interior room is less than expected. That doesn’t make it terrible. It’s still more roomy than mid-sized vehicles. Agian, having sat in a Contential, the interior of the Taurus is wider.

          None of this excepts my assertion that the belly aching about interior space on the Taurus is a bunch of exaggeration. Not as good as expected, but not terrible either.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        the problem with the Taurus is the enormous dash and console.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Their entire mediocre car line up can go then. Not a single model is popular.

  • avatar
    Turkina

    I don’t see the Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta lacking in potential. They all do need to be redesigned within the next two years, though… which is already happening with the Fiesta. Maybe add in a Fusion wagon done up in AWD allroad trim.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      Isn’t it what Edge is already (if S-MAX does not have AWD)?

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Yes and no. Compared to the Fusion/Mondeo wagon an S-Max or Galaxy has more passenger space b/c of the high roof, about as high as an Edge. Compared to the Edge, an S-Max doesn’t have as much ground clearance or AWD, but it does have more passenger space b/c of the low floor.

        There’s really no room in the Ford lineup for an Outback-ized Fusion wagon, either in NA or EU.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    The Ranger and Bronco are coming so who needs more cars?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The original Granada/Monarch was not that bad, but the successive generations were ugly. Granada/Monarch was Ford’s answer to the European cars such as a Mercedes at a lower price–not the same but Ford’s concept was an American version of a more affordable Mercedes. That was how Ford initially marketed the Granada/Monarch. The Granada/Monarch did sell reasonably well.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    So it only took Ford how many years (& axing the Crown Vic) to figure out this Taurus does nothing that the current Fusion doesn’t already do? BRILLIANT!

  • avatar
    kmgreen23

    I understand shuffling your product mix, but knowing how CAFE standards work makes this a potentially costly gamble. Ford has already announced it will ask for relief from the 2025 CAFE mileage goal. In good conscious this appears to be work both ends of the system for profits. Other companies have reduced the weight of their vehicles while Ford has resisted until the F-150 came out. They should try to invest in meeting future regulations while maintaining a product mix that will satisfy dealers and customers.

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