By on August 17, 2018

Image: Ford

Earlier this year Ford announced the impending removal of all passenger cars from its lineup, save the Mustang and — if we’re creative about what qualifies as a car — the lifted Focus Active. However, the automaker says it intends to fill the void over the next five years.

Speaking at a press event leading up to the Woodward Dream Cruise, an annual Detroit event celebrating classic automobiles, Ford product chief Hau Thai Tang said the brand plans to add nine nameplates by 2023 — effectively replacing the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Taurus, C-Max, and Flex, while adding in three additional models.

Before you start getting over-excited about the potential return of the Ford Fairlane or Torino, seven of these vehicles fall into the pickup or utility segment. That leaves two open spaces for prospective sedans or, more likely, quirky electrics. 

“This is a profound shift in terms of how Ford is thinking about the business, and how we’re working,” Thai-Tang said Thursday, according to Automotive News.

It’s more than a little ironic to have Ford’s product chief discussing the company’s carless future as the preamble for one of North America’s biggest car-focused events. Of course, while those enthusiasts might spend this weekend tooling around in classic muscle cars and low-slung cruisers, odds are still good that their daily drivers are crossovers or pickups. Ford knows this, and it is a big reason why it’s tailoring its lineup to better suit the present-day public.

The company also knows that it needs to seduce investors, as share prices mean more than profits in 2018. Wall Street likes glitz and glamour, so Ford played into that. It has autonomous vehicles planted firmly in its crosshairs and, more importantly, a plan to build up the data side of its business. The vehicle lineup is only one piece of the overall puzzle, even though it’s not an insignificant one. But investors also like to hear about all the great things a company is working on. Promises, no matter how wild, must to be made to cater to their short attention spans and fickle wallets. As a result, Ford excels in keeping the world abridged of its plans.

“We believe,” Thai-Tang said. “I think we have to do a good job telling the story and the rationale, and giving [analysts and investors] tangible proof points. That’s the challenge for all of us.”

As this author has covered the tech angle more than enough for one week, let’s get back to sussing out those new models. We already know the Bronco is just around the corner, joined eventually by a smaller unibody “off-roader” that shares components with the Escape and Focus. The returning Ranger pickup, also rumored to get a baby brother by 2022, qualifies as one of these new models. There’s also the contentious Mustang-inspired electric crossover — a model that’s almost painfully difficult to imagine, based on its weird premise.

Ford’s planning its future models (and redesigns) around five modular architectures. Those platforms include rear or all-wheel drive body-on-frame; front or all-wheel drive unibody; commercial van unibody; rear or all-wheel drive unibody; and one intended specifically for battery-electric vehicles. However, all of the platforms will be able to accomodate hybridization to some degree.

It’s a lot to do inside of five years, but Ford seems to have the tools and drive to get it done. The company believes that keeping the lineup fresh is just as important as tailoring it to better suit consumer trends. “It’s like selling fish and vegetables,” Thai-Tang said. “The fresher it is, the better they do.”

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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64 Comments on “Here’s Ford’s Plan to Replace All the Cars It’s Killing Off in North America...”

  • avatar

    “seven of these vehicles fall into the pickup or utility segment.”

    Mustang-based Ford Ranchero!

  • avatar

    Many of those new (returning) name plates are already known and due to drop shortly as are some of those new platforms. The new unibody rwd/awd will underpin the new Explorer which gives us the new (returning) Aviator name plate. The Ranger and Bronco are of course also new (returning) and due soon. I’m betting the Nautilus is counted in that 9 and the Corsair name is expected to banish MK??? from Lincoln when the new one drops that will presumably be riding the new fwd/awd unibody platform.

    So what will the other 4 be?

  • avatar

    I keep coming back to Sergio Marchionne’s look into the future a little while back. Profitability of automakers is taking a major hit due to the seemingly bottomless pit of emissions, crash safety, and connectivity costs. Solving this riddle is of utmost importance.

    What keeps Ford from partnering with another car-based automaker that lacks strong North American distribution? PSA or VW are first in my mind. Ford would have manufacturing capacity and could recipricate with crossovers and light truck plaforms. Legal issues with the EU or the US would be minimal since Ford is presently “out” of the auto business.

    Feel free to enlighten me on why this idea would not work.

    • 0 avatar

      I should say specifically that VW MQB architecture has proven that it is especially flexible over a broad range of automotive types/styles.

    • 0 avatar

      As a start, Ford actually makes fairly reliable vehicles. Any PSA/VW connection would shove me further towards the Ram direction. Huge deal-breaker on my part.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford doesn’t need cars, at least that is the thinking, so what advantage would that hold? There is already an all-new Focus and the all-new Fiesta is just a year or so old. Its not like Ford has no cars to market here, it just doesn’t see the point in doing so. This isn’t like FCA, which has few cars that are marketable in the U.S. and Canada. Ford isn’t lacking models, its lacking the potential for success for those models given the rapid decline of car sales.

      And, you pretty much answered your own question with your reply. VW (and PSA) are plenty strong with platforms that support crossovers, and I doubt either is interested in rebadging the F-150 or Mustang. Neither would likely be successful with foreign nameplates attached to them.

      Ford has already announced working with VW on future commercial vans, so its likely that the next-generation Transit and VW Transporter will share DNA. Aside from that, they really have nothing to offer each other.

      Its not as if a Ford-badged Passat would be successful any more than the VW version, which is already handily outsold by the Fusion. Given the fact that the far more successful Fusion still isn’t worth it to Ford, I don’t see how replacing it with a less successful rebadge would help.

    • 0 avatar

      I could see PSA because they’re not IN the US market. VW has been in the US market continuously since 1949. If they still don’t have good American distribution, I would suggest there’s a problem with their product.

      In 1970 VW had over 1,000 dealers and sold over 569,000 vehicles. Dealership principals don’t walk away from a winner, but they will abandon a losing proposition.

  • avatar

    I really believe that Ford was premature in announcing the “end of the sedan” getting people all excited when they probably should have just phased in new product while slowly phasing out old product. I doubt that anyone would have noticed until one day they realized… “Hey, wait a minute” ;-)

  • avatar

    Has any “journalist” or Ford board member asked how spending $740 million on the train station will improve Ford’s profitability?

    • 0 avatar

      Figure it’s diversification. Profits that would’ve been dumped into loser sedans, instead go to the real estate market (savings account), and office space that’s needed anyway.

      It think it was either this or the dairy industry. But shouldn’t every corporation look outside its industry, especially with excess cash profits, into a somewhat related field, in case there’s a downturn in their main industry?

      Or should they always be multiplying, spreading out, adding stores/product/staff, pushing it to the line, just to appease the stockholder gods?

      Sometimes all it takes is a small hiccup in the market to kill a huge corp.

      • 0 avatar

        How is the dairy industry related?

        • 0 avatar

          Yes I’m sure we can come up with a few, closer related than dairy, but that wasn’t the point of the comment.

          OK I’ll try one, has to be somewhat related, but not an automotive trade. Commercial heating/air conditioning. Lighting?

          You’ll probably say “logging!”.

          But one “related” is the automotive aftermarket, which currently is growing exponentially, and with a downturn in new car sales, it could grow even faster.

          You don’t want a “side hustle” trade that’ll go down with the ship.

  • avatar

    Hopefully Ford will resurrect a legendary name like Thunderbird and slap it on a slightly larger than subcompact but not quite as large as compact lifestyle-oriented crossover. That would be really neat and original.

  • avatar

    I’m good with more EVs if they use the opportunity to make cars with better styling and proportions. Hell, a Fusion with a liftback and a lower shoulderline would be enough.

  • avatar

    …and all will be available sans steering wheel and pedals! Just right for those cruises down Woodward.

  • avatar

    My only hope for Ford at this point is to see their great Lincoln Designer Series and Ford Decor packages from the 1970s make a reappearance on their bloated self driving vehicles. I would love to see a Bill Blass Navigator for example, or how about an Eco Stallion?

  • avatar


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    What’s a “quirky electric”? Are they bringing back the Citicar?

  • avatar

    Ford Atlantica Passemger Van.

  • avatar

    Ford hasn’t driven a better idea lately.

  • avatar

    “contentious Mustang-inspired electric crossover — a model that’s almost painfully difficult to imagine, based on its weird premise.”

    In order to help your imagination take a look at Ferrari SUV.

  • avatar
    John Scott

    So what’s this about a MY2022 sub-Ranger? Did I miss a rumor or two?

  • avatar

    Ford’s car lineup simply is not competitive what is offered at GM, Nissan, Toyota, and even PSA. Ford simply is not good at making cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Apparently, none of the mass-market brands are, as the buying public wants cars that look like trucks. It’s not just Ford’s cars that the public is avoiding.

      With almost all vehicles being fwd-based with automatic transmissions, I say ‘who cares?’ Lame car vs lame CUV, and I’ll take the CUV every time because at least it’s useful.

    • 0 avatar

      Cars are simply not money makers anymore. But you know, facts are lost on the idiotic. How some people actually put pants on in the morning amazes me.

    • 0 avatar

      “Ford simply is not good at making cars”

      You wish. I have just one word: “Opel”.

      • 0 avatar

        “Ford simply is not good at making cars.”

        Henry just rolled over… TWICE!

        • 0 avatar

          “Henry just rolled over… TWICE!”

          I don’t know. The Model T had 10 inches of ground clearance and was designed with the probability of never seeing pavement. I think it’s closest modern equivalent is the Wrangler.

  • avatar

    Even the once great mustang will be built on a CUV platform. I guess it time to stick a fork in the mustang. Ford has somehow managed to even ruin the Mustang.

    Ford sucks

    What else needs to be said.

    • 0 avatar

      Easy now. Yeah the Mustang will be on that CD6 CUV platform but these platforms are so flexible you can make literally anything on them now. From Ford Authority:
      “The CD6 architecture is understood to be much more flexible than existing Ford vehicle platforms, as it is capable of supporting automobiles of various shapes and sizes with either front-, rear-, and all-wheel-drive configurations, and with either transversely- or longitudinally-mounted engine orientations. In the case of the 20201 Mustang, the CD6 architecture will be configured for rear-drive and a longitudinal powertrain orientation.”

      They’re not going to make one platform for one car anymore, those days are over, and why should they? If we put up for years with Fox Mustangs we can certainly deal with a flex CUV bent to 2+2 coupe.

  • avatar

    IF the Europe tariff situation is resolved with super low tariffs, then Ford could import a small sporty hatch or similar solution to satisfy that small car market segment while exporting NA cars to Europe. Ford really only needs one small car and it should be world class, not a penalty box.

    On the North American side Ford should only build 3 cars.
    * Ford Mustang of course.
    * Ford Thunderbird 4-door off the Mustang platform. Steal a few design cues from the 58~67 models but it should be a fastback.
    * Lincoln LS 4-door built off the Mustang platform. The body and interior can be different from the Thunderbird while sharing many components. Lose all the other FWD platform cars.
    All three RWD cars could be built in Flatrock and be exported too!

    For those that need FWD, 4WD, or AWD there is all the SUV & CUV models.

  • avatar

    When Ford says that they are discontinuing “cars”, does that really just mean that they will no longer sell vehicles made by Ford in Europe? Ford stopped manufacturing here in Australia so we lost our beloved Falcon. (I still have one). As far as I know, the only vehicle that the N.A. Arm of Ford makes in RHD is the Mustang. So what will we drive here in Australia? I guess it will have to be Asian or European cars only.

  • avatar

    “share prices mean more than profits in 2018” What does that mean, other than to Tesla “investors”?

  • avatar

    I suppose if Ford is killing all or most of its cars, then they could re-introduce the Model T. After all, it sat up high to see over many other cars, and could be a utility vehicle with some mild upgrading.

    Why not? Apparently they feel that most drivers want crossovers, so why not give in and give them what they think the public wants?

    Me? I still prefer a car, one that is rather tall like my Impala, Ford Taurus and so forth.

  • avatar

    I’ve heard nothing about what this is going to do to Ford subsidiary/partner, Mazda. Their Mazda6 and Mazda3 have shared a platform with Ford products for a while now. I’ve gravitated towards Mazda because, unlike Ford, they are unafraid of putting manual transmissions in their high performance versions of their cars.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    Even the Duh sisters, Hon and Toyo, saw sedan sales tank last month. How long before they start to realize that people want those putrid CUV’s and SUV’s?

  • avatar
    Thomas Leavitt

    I want a comfortable, reliable, fuel efficient vehicle to get me to and from points A and B for the 25-30,000 miles I drive every year for work and pleasure, 95% of which are solo, and 99.99% of which involve no more cargo than a briefcase and overnight bag. A crossover, SUV or full blown truck is completely inappropriate for this purpose. If I happen to need a pickup, I can rent one from U-Haul for $19.99/day. What is this obsession with spending excessive $ on utility vehicles rarely used as such?

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