By on March 16, 2018

2018 Ford Expedition, Image: [Ford Motor Company]

The future is electric, industry leaders tell us, but it will also have room for cargo. Lots and lots of it.

In announcing its near-future product plans on Thursday, Ford Motor Company promised the replacement of “more than 75 percent of its current portfolio” by 2020, with sport utility vehicles filling the sales void created by declining car volume. By the start of the next decade, only 14 percent of sales will come from cars, Ford predicts.

Meanwhile, at Lincoln, there’s good reason to believe the automaker’s luxury brand might enter the coming decade completely carless.

Ford detailed the new product offensive via a flurry of media releases and through a media chat with top brass at the automaker’s product development center. As we told you yesterday, the changes mean eight SUVs in Ford’s lineup, up from today’s six. A baby off-roader joins the reborn Bronco, due out in 2020.

Going forward, Ford plans to use five modular architectures for all of its vehicles: body-on-frame, front-wheel-drive unibody, rear-wheel-drive unibody, commercial van unibody, and battery electric vehicle. These architectures make up 70 percent of the vehicle’s engineering, with the remainder amounting to a unique skin for different models.

Ford’s aiming for a product development cycle (paper to showroom) that’s 20 percent shorter than in the past. This stems from its promise to not only deliver new products in a speedier fashion, but also find $4 billion in engineering efficiencies.

According to Jim Farley, Ford’s head of global markets, every new or redesigned SUV will now come with a hybrid variant. This could mean a conventional hybrid (Ford says it has found a cheaper way of doing it), a plug-in version, or a combination of both.

“They’re an accepted, reliable technology, and we want to make them as emotional and valuable as the desirable EcoBoost,” Farley said.

Ford wants to go head to head with Jeep in some areas, while distancing itself from the off-road brand in other ways. Hybrids, for one thing, but also performance. We’ve already seen Ford come out with an Edge ST, and the more capacious Explorer — which goes rear-drive for 2020 — will soon see its own high-horsepower ST variant.

“We don’t just want to be in the generic SUV business. We want to be either in the performance or in the high-speed, off-road business,” Farley said.

Mentioning Jeep and Land Rover, Farley added, “Both of these vehicles are for a growing group of people who want to simplify their life and get out there with their family and friends. For Jeep, that’s rock-crawling in Moab. For Ford, our people want true off-road vehicles that are comfortable at high speeds. They don’t want SUVs that look like doomsday vehicles or have spartan, government-issued interiors.”

(Hmmm… we’re inclined to believe there’s more than a few prospective Ford buyers who like the doomsday vehicle look.)

The Lincoln brand, which has recently fallen on hard sales times, stands to see two new SUV models by 2020, including the Explorer-based Aviator. The MKX undergoes a name change (“Nautilus”) for 2019. Four more utility vehicles will appear after 2020, Farley said, without going into specifics.

Given that the Ford Fusion-based MKZ appears doomed, and the flagship Continental along with it, this could mean an all-crossover-and-SUV lineup for the brand that, until the late 90s, had zero such vehicles.

In the fledgling electric vehicle class, Ford’s plans have changed. It’s now aiming for a 50 percent decrease in capital investment and a 30 percent increase in labor efficiency, all in the hopes of making an affordable vehicle that can also turn a profit. Six Ford EVs are in the pipeline for the 2020-2022 period.

Amid all this news of off-roaders, hybrids, and battery-powered vehicles, one long-running but barely thought-of model just saw a reprieve. The E-Series, once known as the Econoline, still exists in a cutaway bodystyle for commercial buyers. While the Transit and smaller Transit Connect have stolen the model’s van sales, Ford claims the E-Series will soldier on into the 2020s. A new Windsor-built 7.0-liter V8 engine is in the works to replace the ancient 6.8-liter Triton V10.

[Source: Automotive News] [Images: Ford]

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57 Comments on “There’s a Ford (SUV) in Your Future: Brand Goes Big on Utilities, Lincoln Might Go All In...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    So the only “cars” FMC will be offering in North America by 2022 will be the Mustang, the China-imported Focus, and some sort of EV based on the Focus?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I get this creeping feeling like my next purchase needs to be a car/hatchback/wagon because in another 6 or so years when I want to buy again I might be able to count the number of models on sale on my fingers.

      I also kind of want my kids to be able to remember when there was something other than trucks/SUVs/CUVs/and autonomous transportation pods on the road.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        The pendulum swings, and with Ford it will nearly reach the end of one transit by 2020, but the pendulum will swing back again. Once nearly every vehicle on the road is a *UV, the look will be so common that it will become déclassé. The influencers who wish to stand out will switch to something other than the jacked up 2 box style, and before long the influenced will yearn to switch as well.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      My guess is that a refreshed Fusion will be in the mix too. I don’t think Ford’s walking away from that market altogether.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Looks like the sweatered one at FCA is the new Nostradamus.

  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    Ford will basically limit themselves to SUV’s and trucks just when the chances of escalating gas prices is looming on the horizon. Not a smart move.

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      People Are dropping $50K-$60K on pickups and SUVs, a spike in gas prices will be water off a duck’s back. Folks are financing pickups with 100K on the odometer for 60 months, money is no object for the urban cowboys and soccer moms of the 21st Century. Giddy-up.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The gulf in gas mileage between cars and the 2 row crossovers based on them is pretty much nonexistent. Fusion/Edge 2.0T are within 1MPG of each other. Accord + CR-V 1.5T (now on same platform) are within 3MPG of each other. It’s not like the old days of going from an Altima 2.4 to a BoF Pathfinder 4.0. Aside from the higher entry point there’s no downside.

      Plus the oil market has seemed to stabilize. There are a lot of wars going on in the Middle East but no big gas spikes as a result.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Marginally higher gas prices alone wouldn’t hurt the crossover market, but higher gas prices PLUS an economic slowdown would.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        An economic slowdown would kill the whole car market. I’d bet cars would be more affected as their transaction prices are way lower, and thus easier for folks with less money/worse credit to get into. Those are the folks who will be hit harder during a downturn

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “I’d bet cars would be more affected”

          I’m not so sure. Back in 2008, trucks and BOF SUVs fell about 30%, camcords were down about 5%, large cars were down around 15%, but compact and subcompact cars actually had sales increases.

          In 2009 everything got blasted, but compacts/subcompacts saw the smallest drop.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Ford will still have cars and small MPVs in its European operation. It will be able to bring them back to the US market pretty easily in the event of a sustained rise in gas prices.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yes, selling profitable, in-demand vehicles is SO bad for business. They should just build cars nobody wants and that lose instead of make money, that will fix everything.

      And, IF gas prices go up significantly, Hybrids and BEVs will, um, not work? What part about “every new vehicle will have a Hybrid variant” says they’re not preparing for the possibility of rising gas prices?

      • 0 avatar
        TwoBelugas

        I swear small car enthusiasts are the only group of people other than political agitators that get giddy about the prospect of an economic recession just so they can say “see I told you so”…right before they get laid off from their retail or low level office job in said recession.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    My suspicion is that the Fusion won’t simply go away – it’ll just get a refresh or something like that.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Cars won’t go away, they’ll just end up chop-top, lowrider versions of the trial-riding SUVs they’ll be based on.

      In the mean time, current sedans can simply be updated and re-skinned until the wheels fall off. No need for any kind of meaningful investment/advancement for this segment.

      • 0 avatar
        rolando

        Well, since the Mercedes GLA is already a high riding CLA hatchback, and the AMG trim is listed as a ‘car’ rather than ‘truck’ because of it, why not? I can see other companies doing this to thier hatchbacks: jack them up an inch, call it a xUV and raise the price $1000, with a special ‘lowered’ sport model that handles well!

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      I’m betting it goes away, look at the article yesterday where Morgan Stanley said Ford Truck (particularly f150) was worth more than all of Ford. It makes the business case for Fusions pretty weak.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @MrIcky – ding ding ding…

        We imagined BUICK in 2025 – can you make a business case for Ford to still have SEDANS in 2025?

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Didn’t Henry Ford say you can have any model T you want as long as it is black?

          Now Ford says you can have any vehicle you want as long as it is a truck.

          “Sergio the sweater” car hit man at FCA is looking like he was on the cutting edge of a new trend.

          Meanwhile at GM, more Buicks.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Ford says if the market wants trucks and SUVs, that’s what the market gets. Obviously people do not want cars. What is so hard to understand about that?

            If the market was strong for cars, the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Taurus would sell well enough to justify their existence. It is clear that only two of them seem to be able to do so. And before its all the fault of PowerShift, car sales are down at all automakers. This isn’t a Ford thing, it’s a market demand thing. What is the point in making products that only sell to rental agencies (at a loss, no doubt) instead of focusing on vehicles that DO sell well and DO make money? Even fleet sales of trucks are far more profitable than selling Hertz a bunch of Fiesta sedans.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Well, yeah, I’m thinking there is a business case for continuing the Fusion – they sold around 170,000 of them last year.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            They have volume, but are they making enough money on the Fusion to justify continuing the model or investing anything in it?

  • avatar
    JMII

    UGH apparently we haven’t reached peak SUV yet.

    Also how much longer before Lincoln just becomes a trim line of a Ford?

  • avatar
    sco

    “We want to be … in the performance or in the high-speed, off-road business.” The high speed, off-road business? I dont think high-speed, off-road customers survive very long.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “I dont think high-speed, off-road customers survive very long.”

      If a vehicle gets used in any performance application, the vehicle does not survive long. That may work out well for Ford since they will be assured a steady turnover of vehicles.

      Another aspect of focusing on performance at the track or in the dirt, it sells vehicles to the poser/wannabe crowd. That is where the real money is. Jeep Wrangler is a stellar example. 90% are “appearance” buyers and 10% are hardcore.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Ford should build a retro F-100 pickup, regular cab with a bench seat. I like the 1967 but any year would do. A Philco radio w/Bluetooth would be nice. That’s probably the only way a Ford is my future. Oh, and the steering wheel has to stay on.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    “For Ford, our people want true off-road vehicles that are comfortable at high speeds. They don’t want SUVs that look like doomsday vehicles or have spartan, government-issued interiors.””

    Oh Jimbo. Still an ignorant twit.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    No mention of autonomous mobility solutions. I don’t get it.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    So, no chance of a return of the Gran Torino?

  • avatar
    CombiCoupe99

    And STILL no small truck! Don’t tell me the Ranger is a small truck.

    Maybe the Indians or Chinese can give us what we want? I’m hopeful some upstart takes advantage of all this pent up demand.

    My 2002 Tacoma isn’t going to live forever.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’m actually going to embrace the Fox and agree with you.

      If little leather-lined Easter Eggs sell okay in today’s market then a compact, unibody truck is viable too.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB

    [Cue sarcasm, or at least great sadness]

    I, for one, welcome our new CUV overlords.

    Seriously, this is sad news.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Shame. I actually prefer my ’14 MKZ to the previous generation A4 and C-Class that were available at the time. Now of course it’s outclassed by the new versions (as is normally the case in the automotive world) and I would’ve liked to see what Lincoln could do with a completely new car that isn’t a hodgepodge of new nose and old rear.

    The Navigator shows that Lincoln can go toe-to-toe with anyone’s interior quality if they want to. Sell me a mid-size luxury/sport-ish sedan Lincoln! I have zero interest in the MKC or the Nautilus, and I could care less about several more jacked up soccer mom mobiles.

    CUVs are miserable to drive. ALL OF THEM. The X3 is not fun, the Q5 is not fun, none of them are. You feel like you’re sitting in a dining room chair driving a shopping cart. No thanks.

  • avatar

    Does anyone remember how Ford handled Taurus? No new development – only 1992 “refresh”. And Taurus was a bestseller and very profitable. Nothing changed at Ford even after Mulally’s attempts to change corp culture.

    Regarding Continental – concept had style and presence. I expected it to be a bestseller and it was compared to Bentley for the good reason. But when production model came out it was nothing like concept – rather a bad imitation of original concept. They changed key feature which gave concept the character. And also it is difficult to make FWD car look like a luxury car. Only Audi knows how to do that. Mazda tried but it did not work.

  • avatar

    Why does the Navigator have to be such a POS! Is this Ford’s future!

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Ford has pretty much given up on cars, they don’t even screw the steering wheels on anymore. The Rustang will probably limp on for a bit, unless the Ford design team turns it into some kind of Ranchero. The Rustang is the only Ford that has a unique style, their SUV/CUVs look like anyone else’s and the F-150 doesn’t distinguish itself. Quite a lame lineup at this point. Hey, maybe they can bring back the T-Bird again.

  • avatar

    I caused a firestorm discussing this on two Ford Fusion facebook pages. In one of the forms the moderator had to shut things down. Here is the an sample of how controversial this subject is. I think may Ford sedan fans are in denial. If you can’t face the truth mask it. Here is the link below.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/FordFusionClub/?multi_permalinks=10156183299879817&notif_id=1521262163456817&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic&ref=notif

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    There’s no Ford in MY future, unless it would be an F250, if I ever need something heavier than a 1/2 ton pickup.

  • avatar

    How does the world’s largest and most profitable car maker Toyota manage to successful sell cars, trucks, and SUVs. Unlike Ford, Toyota has all its bases covered. Toyota must laugh at Ford’s inefficiencies.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      akear, history reveals that AFTER WWII, Ford was instrumental in rebuilding Japan’s devastated auto industry, much of it through Toyoda & Co, using Ford’s industrial concepts. At that time Ford, GM and Chrysler production had won two wars and thoroughly trashed Germany and Japan.

      When Mr. Toyoda changed the name to Toyota it was the beginning of a complete “system”, and you may be surprised whose industry concepts were applied, like Deming’s theories, and other industrial futurists.

      You will never see Toyota belittle Ford.

    • 0 avatar

      “How does the world’s largest and most profitable car maker Toyota manage to successful sell cars, trucks, and SUVs.”

      Its easy – they do not have American CEO, executives, board of directors and shareholders.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    ““We don’t just want to be in the generic SUV business. We want to be either in the performance or in the high-speed, off-road business,” Farley said.”

    Jeebus, Jim do you think before you speak? Unless you’re building an X-34 landspeeder no vehicle is “high speed” when offroad, nor are offroad vehicles built for “performance”. You planning to sell us an Expedition we can track Jim? Don’t conflate what makes a Mustang cool with what makes say your F-150 cool, you sound foolish.

    “Meanwhile, at Lincoln, there’s good reason to believe the automaker’s luxury brand might enter the coming decade completely carless.”

    Oh so no MKEdge or MKEscape? Cool! MKBronco, MKExplorerRWD and Navi sounds decent to me.

    “The MKX undergoes a name change (“Nautilus”) for 2019.”

    Weak. Get rid of it if you’re going all truck on us.

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