Ford's Stopping Production of Cars Sooner Than You Probably Imagined

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

The biggest automotive news story of the last week was Ford’s decision to abandon almost all passenger cars in the North American market. Whether you think it’s a smart business decision as consumers shift toward crossovers or a colossal misstep, you were probably envisioning a gradual phase-out as the company bolsters its domestic truck and SUV lineup for 2022. Well, you thought wrong, because Focus production ends this May.

Fortunately, you’ll have a little more time to snag a Taurus or Fiesta before those models are also killed off. Taurus assembly is slated to end in March of 2019, with the Fiesta murdered a couple of months later. After that, you’ll be stuck with whatever dealers have left on the lot and the venerable Mustang coupe. Americans will also have access to a Focus Active imported from China. But it’s as much crossover as it is hatchback, doesn’t start importing until the middle of 2019, and won’t be available in Canada at all.

When Ford announced the plan to dramatically reduce its car lineup and bolster truck production, it didn’t give a concrete timeline for specific models. We just knew that everything would be different by 2022. However, a tweet from Automotive News’ Michael Martinez outlined the discontinuation dates, which Ford later confirmed as legitimate.

The only foggy patch involves the Fusion, which is supposed to stick around for a while longer. Our Fusion’s European counterpart, the Mondeo, has been seen sporting upgraded panels and was originally slated for a complete redesign for the 2021 model year. But plans for that appear to have been postponed, if not scrapped entirely. It now seems that the Mondeo will get a visual refresh sometime in the near future and end production shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, the Fusion’s midlife refresh was canceled last November. It’s definitely dead, but the exact moment when the automaker’s boot heel will crush its larynx is unknown. As sad as this makes us, Ford claimed it was losing money on the Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta.

That’s a little hard to imagine, considering the brand moved 209,623 examples of the Fusion within the United States last year. But the number does represent a significant downturn in sales after its peak of 306,860 units in 2014. Ford is likely hoping to get ahead of the market before it loses further interest in traditional autos and capitalizes on the profitability of trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. It’s also trying to cut costs in a market that is looking less friendly overall these days, while making moves in China.

Fortunately, Ford has said Lincoln will remain committed to cars. So, if you want a Ford-made sedan, and don’t mind spending more money, the MKZ and Continental will be there. But we aren’t entirely confident of how long that will last, because Lincoln’s car sales aren’t exactly strong, either.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Smapdi Smapdi on May 01, 2018

    Here is what I don't understand. If Ford drops cars because SUVs have higher profit margins, but they cost more to the consumer, then what stops the car shopper from moving to a competing brand and Ford not gaining anything? Why do they assume if the Fusion or Focus aren't available, I will spend $5k additional on an Escape or Edge? Why wouldn't I just move to Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Subaru, Nissan.... All they are doing is positioning themselves to surrender a market just like when Toyota took over the midsize pickup segment when all but Nissan abandoned it. If someone had the extra $5k for the SUV, and wanted the SUV, they would have bought it....

  • DenverMike DenverMike on May 01, 2018

    @smapdi - It used to be you took the good with the bad. But then again, why? No Ford has to be taking a loss on sedans and there's really not a good reason not to send sedan customers packing. As much as that sounds like Ford is shooing themselves in the foot, many Ford customers will still buy a Mustang, CUV, Ranger, Bronco, or even an F-150 instead. But what's so wrong with Ford dealers kindly referring (stubborn) sedan customers to the Honda dealer next door for example? "...hey ask for Melissa, tell her Chuck sent ya..." Maybe that Honda dealer will reciprocate and refer truck buyers to you. Who knows? Except I see this happening all around. Companies specializing within their market. Hair salons only doing men/boy's hair cuts (not barber shops), Repair shops only working on "Big 3" diesel pickups, others just doing Power Strokes, and I know of one shop now only working on 6.0 and 6.7 Power Strokes from now on, sending the rest packing. Why the obsession with taking every possible sale away from your competition, at any and all costs? Doesn't it make you wonder how profitable Ford would be if they focused on just the "gravy"?

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