By on January 17, 2018

2017 Ford Fusion Sport front, Image: © 2017 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

There’s a bell tolling for probably more than one Ford passenger car model, though we don’t know which ones just yet. Or do we?

As part of its updated operational strategy, detailed at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference in Detroit Tuesday, Ford Motor Company plans to sink $11 billion into electrification by 2022, release 16 fully electric models on a global scale, and field SUVs in every possible segment and sub-segment. Exhibit A: the subcompact EcoSport and brawn-ified Edge ST.

The company’s goal is greater profits and a healthier return for shareholders, not to mention a hoped-for lift in share value. Certainly, Ford’s declining stock did former CEO Mark Fields no favors.

Unfortunately, in order for Ford’s fortunes to soar, certain models will have to die. The company says it “will shift toward a lower volume passenger car lineup in North America and Europe.”

Jim Farley, Ford’s executive vice president and president of global markets, claims there’s no point in covering all segments anymore. And we all know which segment’s tanking these days.

“We have a rock solid foundation and we have seen growth in key areas, but we know we must evolve to be even more competitive, and narrow our full line of nameplates in all markets, to a more focused lineup that delivers stronger, more profitable growth, with better returns,” he said in a statement.

The automaker expects its North American SUV mix to grow by 10 percent in the next two years, with passenger cars falling by the same amount.

Already, we’ve seen Ford choose not to bring the next-generation Fiesta to North America, relegating the low-profit model in overseas markets and removing the Blue Oval from the subcompact car game. Just recently, we learned the midsize Fusion sedan’s planned redesign (for the 2020 model year) is now off the table. CEO Jim Hackett certainly didn’t seem all that sympathetic to the Fusion’s plight in a recent interview.

Should the Fusion go the way of the Tempo, that takes the model’s Lincoln MKZ platform mate and the European-market Mondeo off the market, too. We’ve long thought the full-size (and much-ignored) Taurus isn’t long for this world, what with limited retail interest and rising sales of SUV interceptors to police fleets.

In order to squeeze more dollars from the sale of its Escape, Fusion, and EcoSport models, Ford plans to drop the number of orderable configurations “from thousands, to just 10 to 20 combinations for each vehicle.” As for those electric vehicles, North America stands to see seven of the 16 planned EV models.

One of those vehicles, a performance-focused crossover, stirred up no shortage of controversy at this week’s North American International Auto Show after the automaker introduced it (verbally) under the Mach 1 name. Predictably, outrage ensued.

[Image: Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars]

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127 Comments on “Ford’s Short-term Game Plan: Cull Cars, Slash Configurations, Boost Profits...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If Ford wants its fortunes to soar, why will they build EVs?

    And if Ford wants to build EVs in any volume, where will they get all those batteries?

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      You know, the same place everyone else is getting their raw materials from. So when 2020 rolls around, all of the car companies can point to the reality that the BEV’s can’t be built like they are saying now. Resources are not as prevalent as a lot of people think.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Good point. Further, much of the character of a vehicle lies in its engine/drivetrain. Somehow, electric drivetrains seem pretty anodyne, in comparison to ICE-powered vehicles. Sure, some are more powerful than others; but that’s it as far as differentiation goes.

      When cars become appliances (as many are already), they become commodities. Selling commodities, whether corn or PC’s, is not a high margin business.

      Is that what they want to be in?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        You know, DC Bruce, my father once asked me why I chose to buy a Camaro instead of a more “practical” car. He said, “Cars are nothing but transportation; they serve no other purpose.” You see, he thought I’d purchased the Camaro as a status symbol–probably in the hopes that it would attract a girl to me as I was unmarried at the time. He was wrong.

        I purchased that Camaro because I wanted a car that was sporty and fun; quick, yet economical. That Camaro averaged over 32mpg on the highway, yet it was built in 1996, back when 30+ gas mileage was the domain of economy cars and even those were considered too small to be “practical” at the time. That car was everything for me that he said it wasn’t, and wasn’t what he thought I’d bought it for. To the best of my knowledge, with the exception of a string of VW Beetles he purchased during the early 60s and one other time, he never bought a 2-door car. He never understood why people would ever want a coupe over a sedan. It is people like him who have brought the auto industry where it is today.

        It is time for a change but it is NOT the change the automakers think it is. People need variety–they need to express themselves as individuals, not tie themselves down into conformance with an artificial standard. Oh, I know…, far too many people simply don’t care and society as a whole has brought us here, not just Red or Blue, Black or White, Brown or yellow. Racism, politics, religions, they are all efforts to force people into one mold when that is exactly what we need to avoid. Yes, there are morals and every group has its morals; most of them quite similar across those religio/political barriers.

        But this discussion is about none of those and all of those together. Ford is making changes in their effort to fit in, rather than be unique. Yet, it is the unique that garners interest and commentary, whether for or against. Ford is making a mistake that may make them money in the short term but could cost them money down the road. When every car is like every other car, who will care whether it’s Ford, GM, VW or FCA? Rather than going for sameness, they should appeal to the individualist. They should build what the customer wants, NOT what some middleman tells them the customer wants; that middleman wants things easy for themself and is the reason so many car types and brands are vanishing.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    The Shelby Cobra Escape GT EV.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      Funny you should say that because Genovation has built, or rather rebuilt a Corvette with two electric motors that produce 800 hp, and still have an actual transmission, not direct drive. So not only is it quick off the line, but it will be able to go faster, with a top speed of 220+, unlike the Tesla, which is limited in top speed because of direct drive.

  • avatar
    The ultimate family-friendly hybrid vehicle is finally here.

    Ford thinks an In-N-Out menu of vehicles will be the road to success. Toyota, on the other hand, has too many choices to keep them all straight.
    Profitability is Job 1… but how did this strategy work out for AMC?

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      It’s more the Honda strategy (no options outside of trim level and color), and it seems to be working for them.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I don’t know if it’s an In-N-Out menu of choices. I early the early 2020s, you should see the following Ford branded vehicles on sale in North America:

      F-Series, Ranger, Bronco, Mustang, Explorer, Flex replacement thing, Edge, Escape, cheaper compact CUV, EcoSport, more premium subcompact CUV thing, Focus, and a bunch of other EV/PHEV things.

      There will be choice, as long as you don’t want a sedan. Ford will have more model names in 5 years than it does now.

      Also, Ford needs to get its build permutations down. When the newest Focus launched in 2012 it had 200,000 build combinations. They have whittled that down to 30. At no point in time did Toyota have 200,000 build combinations for the Corolla. Hell, A/C was a dealer installed option on certain Civic trims 10 years ago. Ford was giving people way too much choice on cheap cars and it was costing them money.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    If you have just 3-4 “value packges” for each vehicle, but make them cheaper due to volume, I think it could help.

    I agree – axe the smaller-inside Taurus over the Fusion. Or redesign the Taurus. That 3.5 Ecoboost keeps calling to me, but then it’s so small/cramped inside..

    • 0 avatar
      Jeremiah Mckenna

      The small choice pool and cookie cutter approach is what helped Toyota and Honda sell so many cars in the beginning. But now we see that they are adding more models to their line up. Chrysler only has two models to choose from now as well. Simplicity in choices makes it a lot easier to make your choice when buying.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Ford’s game plan:

    1) Limit production of vehicles to F Series pickup trucks in North America.

    2) Outsource any other type of vehicle production to Mexico, China, Thailand or other parts.

    3) Have new “Hack”ett of a CEO and his underlings talk endlessly of a future of transportation using corporate, futuristic gobbledygook-speak with copious amounts of terms such as “autonomy,” “autonomous,” “mobility,” electrification,” “grid,” “charging station network,” “ride-hailing,” “pods,” etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I don’t like Hackett any more than you do, but based on UAW contacts, Ford can’t really outsource any more vehicle production from the NAFTA zone. That being said, I think one factory in the NAFTA region will close within the next ten years. If Edge production moves to Mexico to replace Fusion/Focus production that was originally planned, Oakville is [email protected]

      It makes sense for Ford to build the Edge in Hermosillo since the have FTAs with everyone on the planet.

      I am very tired of Hackett’s autonomous synergy solution speeches.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      ^^ This, right here.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Ford is going to focus on models people actually buy and farm out compliance models to the Third World. Imagine if, perhaps compliance models were unnecessary how far things could go? One can dream…

      I predict this will become an industry trend which started with Sergio/FCA. I suspect it will work very well until the next oil crisis, which should have happened by now but it seems MBS has the situation well in hand.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @28-Cars-Later – FCA was hammered for killing off smaller cars and focusing on trucks, SUV’s and “big” muscular cars.

        The sweatered one is looking rather prophetic now.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I agree.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Was he prophetic, or did was it just a fortunate flip of the coin?

          I’d go with the latter. If something had gone sideways economically, FCA would be in serious trouble now.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Small cars are not economic saviors in NAFTA, whether fuel prices increase or an economic downturn occurs. The margins are gone.

            They’ve been justified in the past to try and keep market share away from competitors, but now that CAFE has put the squeeze on, the pain can be taken no more.

            One doesn’t need to be a prophet to see this, just simply aware. When it comes to the financial matters of this business, Marchionne is woke af.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            FCA will be fine is gas goes up. They have crossovers that get good MPG. They have a RAM that does fine. People are going to buy Wranglers no matter what.

            Sergio is a financial wizard.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Don’t like the sound of this. I get the drive for efficiencies but it Seems already like new car choices are typically limited to two trim levels and 3 shades of gray.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I think the reason Ford is considering axing the Fusion is that the Camry and Accord are so good. 0-60 under eight seconds in base form with real world 39 mpg overall.the base fusion won’t break eight seconds and is lucky to get 24 mpg overall.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      And yet they’re still selling a couple hundred thousand per year. That’s over $4 billion/year in revenue that they’re going to kiss goodbye if they can’t convince all of the Fusion buyers that they want an SUV/CUV instead.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        $4 billion revenue, how much profit?

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        That revenue stream is shrinking at a pace that makes it not worth factoring in for the future. Especially at the diminished profitability necessary to keep it going. The end game is profit not revenue.

        • 0 avatar
          notwhoithink

          Which is why it makes perfect sense to cut back on the number of options available for the sedan market and reduce complexity. Offer 6 total trim levels instead of 1000 possible combinations of color, feature, and engine. Simplify to reduce cost. Eliminate the Taurus (too small) and simplify offerings, and it will become more profitable.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      My C-Max will equal that acceleration and beat those MPGs, but it’s getting the ax. Real-world performance isn’t as influential as image, I’m afraid.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I hope Ford puts its Fiesta/Fusion money into the Focus. Stretch the wheelbase a bit, ditch the DCT for the rumored 9AT?, ditch the 2.0 for the 1.6T (or I guess 1.5T 3 banger now). Would be a winner.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Isn’t a stretched Focus with a functional automatic and the 1.5T essentially what the current Fusion is, or where you thinking it needs to be more of a ‘tweener?

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        “Tweener” is probably the sweet spot for what remains of the sedan market. Make the next Focus slightly bigger on the outside, improve the interior packaging a LOT, and offer a cheap n/a 2-liter, a turbo 1.5, and call it a day.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          IMHO, tweeners suck. People who have humans to transport will just continue to buy Toyonda. This is why Ford is getting out of those markets, they can’t win so why compete?

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            MOAR PICKUPS ;)

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Both the Civic and Corolla are basically tweeners now. I think the Corolla is actually a midsize car. If Ford can give the Focus midsize interior space (length wise) with compact-competitive gas mileage they will be able to retain interest and sales.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I respectfully disagree, when Focus and Fiesta sold they largely sold on price. This is also true of the failed Dart and whatever Daewoo stuff Chevrolet was selling at the time. Maybe there were some who really were looking forward to Sonic/Dart/Foci et al, or maybe some had a such a good experience with say Cruze they wanted another, but these folks are in the minority. The domestics never really “had” the small car market in USDM and while there were some small success stories their products never truly rivaled their Japanese competitors.

            For fun ask an early third gen Focus adopter about their auto transaxle.

            “Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Ford on behalf of Focus and Fiesta owners with dual-clutch transmissions alleging defective transmissions.[21] According to court documents, Ford issued multiple technical service bulletins, but according to those accusations the problems were never fully resolved.[22] European motorists have fewer complaints about the PowerShift transmission because they’re used to the shift patterns that mimic a manual transmission. Ford Engineering Manager Chris Kwasniewicz said, “U.S. customers grew up on automatic transmissions, and they were accustomed to a smoother start. We really had to tweak the calibration to make it friendly.”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Focus

            The fail was strong in that product development cycle.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            The fail was strong only with the DPS6. The rest of the Focus is robust. They [email protected] up a great car with a terrible transmission. If Ford would have just thrown the 6F transmission in there and cut down on the build combinations maybe things would have been better. Or maybe they should have just built more Escapes, including an Escape Hybrid at Wayne, and never built the Focus there.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Adam

            FoMoCo should have just carried over the previous transaxle, I am sure it would have fit.

            I suspect someone in product development wanted options gone wild ‘cuz thats what the kidz want ya know. Honestly its kind of similar to Scion logic in this regard. Yeah kids will want all of these dealer add on packages and body kits for their box refrigeration on wheels. Oh wait whose buying? Older people looking for value.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Nah, the previous transmission was a four speed auto. It wasn’t going to be efficient enough for Ford. There were still a number of transmissions that could have been used. 6F and FNR5 would both have been more than acceptable.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Why were they not used in your opinion?

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I’m thinking a tweener. The Fusion is wider and a lot heavier. A Focus with more back seat room should be enough. The Chinese were on to something with the LWB craze.

    • 0 avatar
      Dy-no-mite Jay

      The 1.6 left the Fusion when they dropped the manual transmission option in 2014 (I have a’13 with this combination). The 1.5 that remained (which was the small Ecoboost option when equipped with the auto) is a 4 cylinder. The 3 cylinder that Ford offers is a turbo 1.0 liter.

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    ” In order to squeeze more dollars from the sale of its Escape, Fusion, and EcoSport models, Ford plans to drop the number of orderable configurations “from thousands, to just 10 to 20 combinations for each vehicle.” ”

    So for the segments that are growing like gangbusters, they’re going to start cutting options an streamlining offerings to just a dozen different possible configurations. And in the segment that is still large for them, albeit shrinking, they’re just going to bail out altogether.

    Here’s an idea…kill one of either the Fusion or Taurus. Then on the next generation sedan cut down the number of possible configurations from thousands down to a dozen. This will allow them to make a higher margin on the large, but shrinking sedan segment while still retaining production capability in case fuel prices jump to $4/gallon. Then on your highest volume, highest margin, highest growth segment (trucks and SUVs) give customers options to differentiate yourself from the competition and allow customers the option of personalizing their high demand, high margin vehicle to their tastes. If customers can’t get the configuration that they want from you they’ll probably find someone else to get it from.

  • avatar

    Just noticing how the grille blockages in the lower valance of the Fusion are not symmetrical, and that really bothers me.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Oooh, yuk.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      OK so I think I figured out why all the talk of ditching the Fusion. Until Corey’s comment I would have sworn the lead image was of a Focus. Ford’s design language for cars is attractive, but it is not distinctive.

      Count me into agreement that a Focus LWB with additional width between the door cards seems right. The Taurus fails with insufficient interior room for the exterior size. From what little time in a Fusion I have the rear seat cushion is too low because of insufficient headroom and that makes the rear seating position too funky.

      Screw all the sedans. Put a sedan body on an F150 frame with an F150 SuperCrew’s worth of leg and hip room and call it a day.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    Fusion is a nice car but they apparently don’t lease worth a hoot…best deal I could get was around $375/mo on a car that stickered at $27k, while an Accord Sport with a similar MSRP was running more like $285.

    The whole concept of having 5 engine choices in the Fusion boggles me…the Honda way seems to make much more sense to me from a production efficiency standpoint.

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    “The whole concept of having 5 engine choices in the Fusion boggles me…the Honda way seems to make much more sense to me from a production efficiency standpoint.”

    It does, especially in a smaller segment that is shrinking. But not in a high-volume, high-margin segment that is growing (SUV/CUV).

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    We all have the answers, lol!

    That said, Hackett thinks he does too!

    Because, like all CEOs and senior execs, they are brimming with confidence and they are just sooooo smart!

    The truth is, Fields (another ‘confident’ type) didn’t do a bad job, but not great either.

    Did he buy off on the move to aluminum trucks or (saint) Mullaly?

    No matter. The technical challenges of going to aluminum were significant.

    Ford, the organization, was able to surmount them, and deliver on the volume of F-150s.

    Was it worth it? You tell me. Does an F-150 weight a considerable amount less than a Silverado? NO.

    Does using a turbo engine, with associated cost, deliver significantly more MPG than a Silverado? NO. Is a Turbo V6 cost more to build than a normally aspirated V8? You tell me?

    If that’s why Fields was canned, I get it.

    Still, Ford’s making lots of $$$

    How much is enough? What can Hackett do better?

    It’s all good till it’s not.

    The world is slender thread away from a mid-east altercation that could radically change the price of oil. Then what?

    How many of us drop our car insurance to ‘improve our bottom line’. Probably NONE. That’s what Ford and others are doing, to chase that 10% profit margin.

    It’s all good until it’s not.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It seems Fields got canned because products were getting developed fast enough and he did not worship at the altar of EVs and AVs.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “Does an F-150 weight a considerable amount less than a Silverado?”

      The previous F150 was significantly heavier than a Chevy. Does anyone have the specs on modulus of torsion on the F150 versus Chevy? If one considers the payload differences between Ford and Chevy, I’m thinking that Ford has a more robust frame.

      “Does using a turbo engine, with associated cost, deliver significantly more MPG than a Silverado?”

      Ever hear on “one Ford Global”?
      You can’t sell large V8’s globally. The EB line was touted as a fuel saver but I believe it was more related to global homogenization. The TTDI engines appear to be more sensitive to driver input. I know two fellows with EB 3.5 F150’s. One raves about mpg and the other is “meh” about mpg. Guess which guy is a lead foot?

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        “but I believe it was more related to global homogenization”

        I’ve suspected the same and probably said it here and there a time or two before.

        Not a bad play though since people especially the kiddos buying into the whole “disruptive” technology bit.

  • avatar
    redapple

    My rule of thumb for leases.
    1% of car value per month is a good deal.
    IE- $28,000 car? = $280 / month.

    Right Jack?

    I got my Forester last month. $29,000. At $273/month.

    • 0 avatar
      pinkslip

      “My rule of thumb for leases.
      1% of car value per month is a good deal.
      IE- $28,000 car? = $280 / month.

      Right Jack?

      I got my Forester last month. $29,000. At $273/month.”

      For a very specific lease configuration- 36 months, 10-12k miles/year, standard drive-off (first payment, reg, security deposit)- yes, that is a good rule of thumb.

      For anyone looking at different terms- 24/27/39/42 months, 7.5K/15k+ miles, additional down payment, etc.- this would not work.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Ford.
    Why are you building 10,000 variations of the Fusion?
    Honda taught us in 198o with the Accord. 2 trim levels. LX and EX. 5 colors. DONE.

  • avatar
    ajla

    BRING ME MOBILITY SOLUTIONS!

  • avatar
    stingray65

    So Ford needs to cut marginally profitable cars in order to afford to produce totally unprofitable EVs – sounds like a winning strategy: The more they EV money they lose the more their share price will resemble Tesla’s.

    As for what to keep, the Mustang is probably the only profitable car Ford sells in North America, and yet it doesn’t share a platform with anything else. I still say Ford should join the rear drive oriented Germans and make a sedan, wagon, and jacked up Outback/AllRoad/Cross-Country versions out of the Mustang platform and put truck based drivetrains in them to maximize economies of scale. That is all Ford needs in the US for cars, everything else can be trucks, SUVS, and CUVs, and they can import a Fiesta/Focus from a low manufacturing cost location if fuel prices rise.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      stingray65 –
      EV’s are not profitable right now. That will not be the case in the near future. Renewable energy is reported to be on parity and surpass hydrocarbon sources within the next two years.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Renewable energy will only be at parity with hydrocarbon energy if you do the following: 1) maintain or increase current renewable subsidies and mandates, 2) do not consider the costs of maintaining conventional power plant or energy storage system backups for when the wind and sun are not cooperating, 3) assume that hydrocarbon sources will suddenly and permanently jump up in price. Best projections for global energy supplies and power generation say that most EVs will be fossil powered for at least the next 50 years because renewables just aren’t ready for prime-time.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Hmmmm…not ready for prime time?

          https://www.denverpost.com/2018/01/16/xcel-energy-low-bids-for-colorado-electricity/

          • 0 avatar
            stingray65

            Thanks for the link. We’ll see if they actually deliver reliable power while making a profit. There is no low cost storage unless they are planning to pump water into reservoirs. I’ll gladly eat my words if they can, but I’m not betting my pension on it. South Australia thought they could do it with renewables also, but have some of the most expensive power and least reliable grid power in the world.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            XCEL’s a major power utility, so one would imagine these folks selling solar and what not have their proverbial feces together.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    And yet Ford, like GM w/ falling Cadillac, is willing to lose untold billions trying resurrect a once proud luxury brand that has no future.

    There are crazier things, like CA’s “high speed” rail that violates every major tenet of the initiative and is certainly never going to be built.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      “There are crazier things, like CA’s “high speed” rail that violates every major tenet of the initiative and is certainly never going to be built.”

      It’s being built. Question is, will it ever be completed?

      https://sf.curbed.com/2017/9/19/16331308/high-speed-rail-california

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      CAFE 2025 is going to obliterate the luxury car segment as we know it. Everything will be like the plug-in CT6 and vehicle costs will necessarily be shifted from coach building to powertrain and chassis building.

      Reliability and cost efficiency will be paramount. Mercedes is already moving back towards the inline-6 for cost-efficiency reasons, and scalability with inline-4 cylinder engines.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Lots of hate here, but these are the right moves.

    Sedans are dying. Fast. There is no point in spending billions to develop a vehicle that by 2020 will sell fewer than 100,000 copies per year, especially when your strengths as a company are not in areas that are important to sedan buyers. Ford does CUVs/SUVs/trucks better, and it’s right to focus on them.

    Individualized options are great for enthusiasts, which is why BMW and Porsche will continue to offer them. They are irrelevant to how the great bulk of American consumers shop. The Honda strategy not only streamlines manufacturing dramatically but allows easier upsells. “You want a sunroof? Sure, no problem. I can get you into this EX that we have right here on the lot for only $10 more a month.”

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      B-b-but Ford is wrong to take away sedans I never cared about to begin with! Waaaaahhh!

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      The Focus and Fiesta actually are Ford’s strengths, but the models are best known in hatchback form in Europe. Adding a trunk and then sending them on to the gridiron with Civic and Corolla was a waste of money. Fiesta doesn’t sell so I suppose it must disappear. Focus should be left in hatchback form, which is how it is developed for overseas markets.

      The money they spent adding a trunk to Focus would be better spent on marketing and advertising the benefits of a hatchback. It’s not reeducating the consumer if the benefits are real.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The thing is that in 2017 the Fusion made up 1/2 of the sales of vehicles that share its platform. 200K Fusions and 200k Edge, MKX, MKZ and Continental combined. Part of the drop in Fusion sales were due to their own choice of limiting sales of it to fleets. The Fusion Hybrid and Energi often sell in top trims and to a demographic that tends to favor imported cars. They at least better start making a Hybrid Escape again, and it better be class leading, if they want to hold on to those buyers. For the other buyers, most that will be swayed to the CUV side will probably go to the Escape as well over the Edge while the rest go look at the Camry and Accord. Killing the Fusion and Mondeo also means that a MKZ and potentially the Conti would be cost prohibitive and the MKZ is still a key player in Lincolns line up and the Conti is supposed to be another key player.

      Cutting down on the potential permutations would definitely go a long way to being a little more profitable. There doesn’t need to be that many power train choices, nor should there be so many stand alone options on a vehicle of this volume and price range.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    All sedans should be wagons anyway so I support this.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    I am now sensing that there will be no Ford in my future. Ever.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    It’s time for the first installment of “Ford Death Watch”.

  • avatar
    hpycamper

    I hope auto execs aren’t reading these comments, or taking them seriously. I would hate to see a future where my choice was a truck or appliance car. If many choices is unprofitable, why does BMW, VAG, Mercedes etc. flourish?

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      The Germans sell their cars all over the world, so they get big economies of scale even though US car sales are declining, while most of the US brand profit makers are mostly sold only in N.America (don’t see too many F-150s in Germany). The Germans have premium brands, so they get higher margins, while Ford and GM spent 30+ years killing their premium brands with crappy products. The Germans have also greatly expanded their SUV/CUV models (BMW X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, coming X7 for example – most available with gas, diesel, and hybrid versions), which are also sold globally with huge economies of scale – just try buying an Explorer or Flex or Navigator in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        hpycamper

        German companies seem to be making money and they are still building sedans, coupes, wagons, converibles, etc. Ford used to be able to do that. They used to build and sell around the world too. The problem is not the vehicle mix.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Signs of intelligent life, though I question dumping tens of billions into EV development in the name of “profits”. Demand is soft and resources are limited so costs will spiral quickly if demand actually picks up. EVs are still an expensive hedge. Having one purpose-built EV seems like enough.

    Eliminating models and trims is necessary. Fiesta isn’t a money maker. They were only bringing it to the US as part of a false value proposition and for the old fleet-based CAFE regulations. Now that those are gone, no reason for the Fiesta to be in the US. The sedan variant of the Focus probably needs to croak because it has no global raison d’etre. CAFE 2025 will require major fuel economy improvements so I’m not sure there will be a need for a Focus hatch and the C-Max in the future. Taurus will not be around much longer. I think Flex should probably be replaced by the passenger wagon, but the PW might be too much of a shock for people accustomed to the Flex. Edge probably needs to go as well, regardless of CUV/SUV demand.

    So that’s 5 models out the window. Ranger will be added, along with a new dedicated EV at some point. I guess the Bronco is coming back, too, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Reducing configurations makes outsourcing production easier. GM did this with the Pontiac G8 and the Chevy SS, in part because of the long shipping cycle from Australia to the US. Toyota, Honda, Datsun, and Subaru started out all this way also.

    In the case of Ford, reduction of configurations points to a longer-term plan of moving more production further from the US.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Twenty-three different trim packages just for their pickup trucks was simple overkill. Go back to four trims and three bodies (Standard, extended, crew cabs) and they’d be good.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      F150 trim packages are not the problem. They have added STX back in, created even high trims, and made packages within packages. F-Series sales justify the amount of trim packages.

      If you think Ford needs less truck trims, you have not been paying attention to how that company makes money.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @Adam – ding ding.

        Truck shoppers are not confused and if it sells, keep building it.

        Although trucks are the last bastion of the old idea of being able to order almost everything what you want and nothing you don’t.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @PD: Wrong! Just to get one option I want, I have to go about six trim levels above where I prefer, which means another $3K up front for a $100 option. (Before incentives, naturally.)

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            What option do you want that isn’t on the XL?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Ok. Just for the sake of argument, I want the base XL… after all, it’s pretty well equipped, right?

            Ok… Rather than black, I want Magma Red…an available color. With that I automatically get an upgraded option package that adds $2080 to the sticker… just for a color change. Now, let’s say I want the Raptor’s blacked out headlamps… Are they available? No. Black grill with bright headlamps? I don’t like the look. But why do I have to go to the Raptor to get the headlamps? It’s either that, or buy them separately and install them myself… adding cost for absolutely no reason as far as I’m concerned.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            If Americans would order their F150s instead of buying them from dealer lots maybe you’d get more individual choice.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “If Americans would order their F150s instead of buying them from dealer lots maybe you’d get more individual choice.”

            That’s what the “Build your own” website is for.
            Problem is, they don’t let you build it, they only tease you with it and still force you down to the dealership to go through it all over again, with the salespersons and management doing their worst to put you into one of their in-stock trucks even if they’re nowhere close to what you want.

            How do I know? Because I tried to “build my own” and got ‘sent’ to my local Ford dealership. Worse, I received an email address thanking me for my interest and insisting I visit my local dealership to check out their stock of trucks. Not once did they even acknowledge the effort made to design a truck to MY liking.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        There’s at least one reason why I haven’t bought a Ford truck. Honestly, with all those trim packages, they clearly prove they could go a-La Carte and still make money while saving money on unused options force-fit into trim packages that only include ONE actually-desired option. For one thing, I abhor every version of Sync they’ve put out so far, though I admit the last version I played with was 2 years ago when I rented a car to go to my step-father’s funeral (and subsequently inherited his ultra-low-mileage ’97 Ranger.)

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          They do packages because of dealer orders and simplicity sake. The trim levels are pretty much a la carte once you select one. They each add equipment, but you can select most engines in each trim. XL and XLT both have three cabs and multiple bed legths. You can select a bunch of options within that. It makes more sense for Ford to do packages on mass orders.

          Americans would have to change the way they buy cars to do a la carte. We want things on the lot and right now.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “They do packages because of dealer orders and simplicity sake. The trim levels are pretty much a la carte once you select one.”

            —-No, Adam, they’re not. I’ve gone through their “build a truck” program many, many times over the years and every single time… EVERY time… if I click on just one desired option, I have to buy the next higher trim package, with all those things I DON’T want, included. Even just choosing a different grill either drives me to a lower trim that lacks everything else I want or choosing a specific infotainment package pushes me up thousands of dollars and 3-4 trim packages above what I want, losing the grill choice or body cladding or even simple COLOR I want!

            No, by no means does it even come close to going a-La Cartë. It’s like ordering a steak Blood Rare and discovering they smother it in sauces to hide the flavor.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            They offer more options and permutations on the F150 than pretty much everything. They aren’t doing true a la carte, but there are a ton of options to choose from. It’s better than you get anywhere else. My biggest beef is that I can’t add a better infotainment system to the STX. In the grand scheme of things, the XLT isn’t much more.

            I also didn’t mean that each trim level is a la carte for the whole F150 parts bin. But you can select a ton of different options and mix and match options within trims. It’s not perfect, but it’s still pretty darn good.

            You can ask Ford to paint F150s other colors for you. You probably haven’t been a customer that orders enough trucks for them to do it though.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            You do realize, Adam, that you’re making my point for me. Ford clearly has the ability to go a-La Carte but they still believe its cheaper to just stuff unnecessary and undesired options into a package that contains a single desired option in order to jack the price up more than the cost of the single desired option. I demonstrated that by showing how a simple change of body color adds $2000 of unnecessary and undesired options.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    So does this mean that in the future, to get a specific paint color, I won’t have to spend over $3k in options such as BLIS, etc to get said paint color? That would be a good business decision SonI doubt it will happen but one can dream.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I am in agreement on EV…. You can’t talk about profitability and EV in the same sentence.

    Someone mentioned Tesla…you got me wondering if this is really what Ford is trying to do now. Building quality, competitive, profitable cars and trucks is NOT important. Pumping the stock so executives and Ford family members can dump it, Ford Motor Company be damned, might be exactly what they’re doing. And it appears that the more Tesla “promises” to deliver in the future, combined with the more “actual, real cash” Tesla burns every single day doesn’t make any difference. Ford will go with product crap-ification to reduce cash burned in investments, promise lots of EVs and such down the road, make inferior quality vehicles (just like Tesla!) and watch their stock price quadruple in the next 2 years.

    I don’t get it. Honestly. This screams a leadership concerned only with stock price and nothing else. It might work for awhile, until suddenly it doesn’t and they’re sitting on ancient, poorly engineered, poorly built cars that don’t sell but did save a lot of money up-front, and now the stock is worth nothing.

    And I still can’t get the Fusion and its platform mates being unprofitable. The new Accord and Camry are a step up, as they should be, they’re brand new! As I recall when the Fusion was last brand new it was doing extremely well. And I cannot believe they can’t figure out a way for what, the 3rd or 4th best selling sedan in America, at 200,000 units annually, made in Mexico, can’t be profitable? Or at least profitable to maintain and invest?

    I am going to be quite upset if this is a trend and we really are looking at future dealership experiences of “do you want this giant-a$$ truck, or would you like this jacked up crossover”? Can I have a sedan, a hatch, a compact car, a sporty car, a wagon, a subcompact? No, only giant trucks and crossovers, sorry.

    We are all armchair quarterbacks but I just cannot see what Ford is trying to accomplish here other than stock pumping uber alles.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    I think we’ve seen this strategy before. Usually, just before every recession/Arab Oil Embargo/contrived or political gas shortage. And each time it ends the same way; with records set for the German, later Japanese, later Korean makers. Maybe this next time it will be the Chinese brands.

    In 1979 it was AMC, heavily dependent on the Jeep lineup. In 2008, it was GM, sticking to luxo-trucks and pooh-poohing suggestions it focus on practical size-and-cost products. And, when the crunch came, each time…the social-engineer wags were all a-titter, damning the various makers for not making “socially responsible” products.

    Well, I reject “social responsibility” as an aim of manufacturing; but I do think they have a point: This Lux-Barge Market is driven, not by need but emotions; emotions and the sudden flush situation of various financiers and money-changers. That’s not an endless market and the winds of change could blow the air out of their own sails.

    We are looking at a correction; it will be a costly one; and people will not HAVE $60.000, or what passes for it in the coming hyperinflation, for a one-ton dooley that hauls the pale face and soft hands of a Business-Admin graduate and his ego and manhood. Americans with honest jobs will need honest cars – inexpensive cars; the kind that Germans and Japanese needed after the war they lost.

    Because in this war on the dollar and on American savers and workers, today’s workers will be the losers. And will have to adapt in their lifestyle. There won’t be enough beaters and hoopties to go around.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      How does a weak dollar hurt workers?

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        Weak as in how? INFLATION erodes savings; it devalues the wages you’ve agreed to work for. It makes buying something on time, like a car, riskier (as the cost of living rises, no one’s sure how fast) and as interest rates rise over the inflation rate. This current Federal Reserve Zero-Interest is an artificial environment.

        Then there’s the ginormous government deficit; and that will have to be serviced. Inflation will also push everyone into higher tax brackets.

        This is obvious to anyone who’s lived through the 1970s or who has examined those times.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “Inflation will also push everyone into higher tax brackets.”

          Bingo.

          “This is obvious to anyone who’s lived through the 1970s or who has examined those times.”

          You’ve been living in them again for nearly a decade. Stagflation, baby!

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I see the goldbug crew is out in force. Major inflation (above 5%) is a real problem. Inflation of 3%, an amount of which the Fed is terrified, is no problem at all. Current inflation of 2% is fine, but could mean we’re leaving some productivity on the table. Inflation below about 1.25%-1.5% actively harms workers.

          “INFLATION erodes savings.” This hurts the moneyed class badly, but doesn’t hurt workers much, as most of them have savings that are very small compared to current wages.

          “it devalues the wages you’ve agreed to work for.” Wages in a balanced labor market will rise with inflation. If they don’t, the problem isn’t really inflation, it’s an issue with the labor market. The 1970s were a good example; the working-age population increased massively without a corresponding addition of jobs.

          “It makes buying something on time, like a car, riskier.” Quite the opposite. If you agree to make fixed payments on a house or car, inflation decreases your debt burden. Likewise, inflation does a nice job of reducing the “ginormous government debt.”

          “Inflation will also push everyone into higher tax brackets.” This is true under current law but Congress could change it at the stroke of a pen.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “In 2008, it was GM, sticking to luxo-trucks and pooh-poohing suggestions it focus on practical size-and-cost products.”

            GM could have sold the car with the magic 100 mpg carburetor, their goose was cooked no matter what for a number of reasons.

            “There won’t be enough beaters and hoopties to go around.”

            Already there.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            You should pay more attention to our own history of a generation ago, and less to the FED cheerleaders.

            It’s self-evident: Inflation erodes the value of savings and contracted/agreed-upon pay. Hurts the “moneyed class”? Only if you think that only “rich people” save, or should save. It hurts those who can only save a little, more. Those who are trying to plan a decent retirement, more than a $1000 antiSocial inSecurity check allows…THOSE are the ones hurt. Even as that thousand is debased and devalued.

            It destabilizes the economy and debases the currency. It benefits those who get the newly-created currency; at the expense, in corrupting the value of, those who worked and sacrificed for the money they do have.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Again, workers in the real world almost never have significant savings. Between mortgages and student loans, most of them have more debt than savings, which makes inflation a net benefit for them. I’m a professional worker with very good pay and significant savings and yet I’m still decisively in this category, thanks to a mortgage that’s 3x my annual income.

            “contracted/agreed-upon pay.” Almost no workers have employment contracts. The ones that do are almost exclusively top-level executives. At-will employment causes workers a lot of problems, but in a balanced labor market one of the big benefits it can bring to workers is the leverage to ensure that wages reflect current value. Again, in the real world, unless the labor market is badly out of whack, wages keep up with inflation. (Although they do not keep up with productivity gains, which is a separate problem mostly resulting from bad tax policy.)

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          @JustPassinThru

          You’re mixing many metaphors. Currency depreciation is not necessarily synonymous with inflation. Furthermore, savers and consumers are not workers.

          Generally speaking, workers benefit from currency depreciation and devaluation. That’s why Japan and China have purchased so much US debt to thwart their currencies from rising against the dollar.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            No, it is you who are confused.

            INFLATION is, literally, inflation of the currency – pumping up the numbers of the unit without increasing backing value or wealth.

            PRICE INCREASES come from inflation – or other things, such as increased costs or rising demand that outstrips supply.

            Workers do not benefit from having the proceeds of their work, devalued after the fact. And a person who saves, can be a worker…obviously.

            A person who does not save for old age, is a FOOL.

            Rising prices from a vicious circle of money-printing, benefit no one…except the recipients of the “new” money. In the current case, that would be the financiers – who get it through the laundering process of ZIRP loans through the Fed; and then pour it mindlessly into the Dow and NASDAQ for their bank-bosses. Paying themselves commissions every step of the way.

            Finally, “gold bugs” are not the ones who worry about inflation. Gold PROTECTS from inflation. A gold-owner sees HIS value preserved, and sometimes increased, with mindless debasing of the currency through inflation.

            You’re welcome.

          • 0 avatar
            cdotson

            “Gold bugs” are those who believe that gold is a hedge against inflation when historical gold prices do not bear out that assertion. Gold is a hedge against global instability, generally overperforming in times of economic crisis (especially oil shocks) and receding during the good times (mid-80s, late-90s).

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    It’s off topic…but the good times are bad for gold because gold offers no returns.

    When the currency is stable and the economy is roaring, as it was for two decades…only a fool would ignore the miracle of compound interest.

    When the FED is intentionally debasing the currency, while distorting the capital market with Zero-Percent at the Fed Discount window (to member banks) the economy roiles; and will whipsaw more with the distortions. Think Venezuela. Or Argentina. Or Zimbabwe.

    That’s where gold becomes attractive.

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