QOTD: A Ford for Every Driveway?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd a ford for every driveway

This topic keeps worming its way into your author’s brain, and it remains a regular point of discussion in the TTAC Slack chat room. How could it not? Ford announced the demise of its non-Mustang passenger car lineup earlier this year while simultaneously declaring that no customer would be left behind.

No one’s being cut loose from the Ford family, CEO Jim Hackett remarked. Ford’s just reinventing the car. Okay…

Now that Dearborn’s plan to import the lightly crossoverized Focus Active from China has bit the dust, entry-level customers (meaning those without much dough, or those in the mood for downsizing and good fuel economy) can choose from the base, front-drive, three-cylinder EcoSport and not much else. What a choice. Maybe a low-end Escape, if those exist? We’re already well into the $20k range now, before tax, admin, and freight.

As Ford figures out how to reinvent the car, assuming it truly wants to continue courting entry-level buyers, there’ll be a dwindling number of certified pre-owned Fiestas, Focuses, and Fusions available for some years to come. Of course, the number of buyers looking for these models is dwindling, too, which is why Ford made its decision in the first place.

Maybe it will all work out — youngsters with their first professional job can hop into a low-mileage off-lease special, and empty nesters who didn’t set much aside for retirement can do the same. Then, when Group A has moved up the corporate ladder and Group B has, um, relinquished its driving privileges, there’ll be at least some customers willing to consider whatever Ford comes up with to flesh out the bottom of its lineup.

Or maybe Group A is, by now, in the mood for something more family-friendly? Hmm…

It’s worth noting that the subcompact Ford Fiesta, scheduled for execution early next year, is up 2.5 percent in terms of year-to-date sales. It’s not much volume — 33,225 units, or about a third of the rapidly falling (and already discontinued) Focus’s volume — but noteworthy for being the only Ford passenger car without a minus sign next to its YTD figure. Combined, Fiesta, Focus, and Fusion sales amounted to 24,202 units last month —11.5 percent of Ford branded vehicles (of which a full half were pickup trucks and vans).

After axing the North American Focus Active, Ford claimed it wasn’t a big loss, as it didn’t plan to sell more than 50,000 of them a year. Clearly, the automaker feels it’ll be just fine without a low-end vehicle. With more utilities on the way and the F-Series pushing its sales and margins into the mesosphere, it has the privilege of not having to worry about low-margin compacts, as well as their buyers. Fine.

So, the question today is this: should Ford just come clean and say it’s willing to abandon low-end buyers? Does it bother you that it continues to dance around the topic, alluding to vehicles that haven’t yet materialized, and might never appear?

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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10 of 76 comments
  • MoparRocker74 MoparRocker74 on Sep 06, 2018

    Nope. I'm a Mopar guy anyway, so in the case of the few Fords that interest me, FCA does it better or is unchallenged: --Ram > F-series --Challenger > Mustang --Wrangler > Bronco (which doesn't even exist at this point --Charger/300 > no equivalent --Durango/GC > no equivalent

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    • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Sep 07, 2018

      Raph, with all due respect I cannot call Challenger a "luxury". Interior is depressing place to be in. I don't know why they did not learn from MB while they had a chance.

  • El scotto El scotto on Sep 06, 2018

    Ford small cars were routinely bad mouthed by many; "buy a Toyota/Honda or Korean instead". The market reflected that. Now that Ford is going to stop selling small cars that routinely rank 3rd or 4th in sales for their category; the interwebz are freaking out. Why should Ford keep building low-profit, darned by faint praise cars when the market says they're bad? The Sloan model is dead and ironically, Toyota is the best at copying it. In an ideal world: Corolla to LS/GX in a buyers lifetime. Fiesta/Aveo/Civic to (near luxury) Continental/FWD Cadillac/Acura? Maybe.

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    • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Sep 07, 2018

      I have driven a few Focus and can honestly say I would buy Korean over the Focus every day of the week. The interior of the Focus is cramped and hideous. The older ones were much nicer inside. If I were looking for a tossable car and didn't care about the interior then a FiST or FoST might be on the short list.

  • CoastieLenn I'm wanting the keen readers among us to pay attention to the comments in this article compared with the one that immediately followed it. They contain the exact same amount of usable information yet, because one is Ford and one is Toyota, we're seeing the Ford get chit on and the Toyota will be seeing praises. Toyota isn't exactly the shining star they once were and the newest generation of Tacoma was outdated 6 months after it began production... pertnear 10 years ago.
  • Ajla @Arthur: Yes if you are the first reply to a comment and then someone else replies in the same thread it is about 75% odds your comment will disappear.
  • Deanst Any skoda station wagon. But I guess the issue is just making the vehicle available in North American.
  • NJRide Yea the Compass took its place. Probably something more rugged between the Bronco/Bronco Sport in size (and electrified) is the best bet.I don't see the nearly 60-year old Belvidere plant in high-tax Illinois getting another product though. Stellantis will drop to 5 US Assembly plants
  • EBFlex "yet unlike the Dodge Charger/Challenger/300, never improved in features or reliability."Flatly untrue."And I'm sure Native American activists working to get rid of exploitation of their names and images aren't exactly crying in their beer over this decision."The name was not being exploited.