By on October 19, 2018

2018 Ford F150 assembly line -Image: Ford

The plan may as well carry the heading “Operation Don’t Leave Us.” As Ford dealers meet in Las Vegas, the automaker has shifted its focus from luring buyers from other brands to keeping Ford owners in the family.

Helping firm up that relationship are a series of “Built Ford Proud” ads poised to hit the airwaves this weekend, with Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston serving as the brand’s spokesman. For dealers, product assurances top the most-wanted list. Apparently, they got them.

Miffed that Ford culled the brand’s sedan/small car lineup with little notice or consultation, dealers assembled in Las Vegas were told that low-priced Fords will not go extinct, though Automotive News‘ man on the ground didn’t hear specifics about the brand’s entry-level strategy.

Ford’s president of global markets, Jim Farley, reportedly pledged to offer “several” vehicles in the sub-$25,000 price range. Recently, the planned importation of the Ford Focus Active from China hit a dead end as a result of import tariffs, leaving just the tiny EcoSport crossover as entry-level fare.

Globally, Ford faces steep challenges in China as well as Europe, making its sliding U.S. sales even more of a concern. Year to date, Ford sales fell 2.1 percent stateside. Hoping to retain loyal buyers, the automaker plans to allocate more product to high-volume dealers, while development cycles will be shortened to keep the brand on its toes. A loyalty program will emerge in the coming year, targeted mainly at truck buyers.

By offering rewards, new perks, and boosting the frequency of customer interactions, Ford hopes to keep the love flowing back.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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59 Comments on “As Dealers Meet, Ford’s Focus Switches from Customer Conquest to Retention...”


  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    But what if Ford no longer sells vehicles that you want to buy? I found myself in exactly that situation a decade ago. For me, the answer was buying from an automaker that did, in fact, make what I wanted. It’s becoming more difficult to find such products thes days – from anyone.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Exactly. Currently I drive three classes of vehicles: Motorcycles, minivans and sedans.

      I don’t see Ford making any of those classes by the time I’m due for a change (approximately two years). The Transit Connect is too small, the Transit is too big and truck-like, there will be no sedans, and even if Ford decides to start making motorcycles, I’m a die-hard Triumph and Harley-Davidson guy.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Going to be hard to retain customers without product they want.

    But here is the key point detractors of this move seem to miss……

    Going to be even harder to stay in business selling cars at a loss to keep them.

    I think a lot of people would rather see Ford go out of business doing things as they wish rather than doing things that make them uncomfortable to survive. People hemmed and hawed the same way when Porsche came out with the Cayenne. Look at them now, and look at Lotus who is what Porsche would have been “your way”.

    Have you paid anywhere near MSRP for a Ford sedan lately?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @sportyaccordy: “Have you paid anywhere near MSRP for a Ford sedan lately?”

      — Have you paid anywhere near MSRP for a Ford TRUCK lately?

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Or, for that matter anything under the BMW/M-B/Audi triumvirate?

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Sporty, I understand your point. But I dispute that Ford is actually losing money on sedans. They just see more money in SUVs/CUVs and trucks. Time will tell if their hunch is correct. But I work too hard for my money to pay 20-30-40 thousand dollars for a vehicle that fundamentally displeases me. I suspect many others feel the same way. Of course, we understand that a good portion of the American public views vehicles of any type as appliances. Many others will take whatever you feed them. We’ll see if there are enough to allow Ford to thrive.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I want to give Ford the benefit of the doubt here. Their target is overall margin. If the sedans/hatches were at all profitable, then this move makes zero sense as there’s no way it will be a 1:1 conversion.

        But it was not uncommon to see 20-30% discounts off MSRP on Ford cars before the announcement. For a company operating at a ~5% profit margin, that kind of volatility and pricing is just untenable. Some of Ford’s problems are unique and self inflicted but ultimately there are big headwinds in the segments of these cars too.

        I don’t think it’s at all unfair for you to vote with your dollars. Personally I like my wife’s MKX and would buy another one. But Ford has to do what it feels it needs to do to survive. Selling volume cars at a loss runs counter to that objective.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Enthusiasts don’t like that Porsche sells SUVs, but understand it. They still sell sports cars, and sell more than they ever have. If they got rid of those, it would kill the brand. Even the soccer mom with a Cayane wants to see the 911 GT2 in the showroom.

      Going back to Ford, maybe they couldn’t make money on sedans because they always had way too many combinations available for options. Do what the Japanese do. Have several packages, and several colors. Don’t go crazy.

    • 0 avatar
      hpycamper

      I don’t remember Ford saying they lost money on cars. It sounds like maybe their money is being squandered on “mobility” stuff and autonomy instead of cars.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        It was an industry estimate:

        http://www.autonews.com/article/20180430/RETAIL01/180439974/ford-sedans-north-america

        “UBS analyst Colin Langan estimates that Ford loses $800 million a year selling small cars in North America.”

        Ford has made a lot of stupid mistakes, but they are trying to get their stock healthy again… ceasing to sell cars that help the dividend runs counter to that.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Aren’t they the same people that said the Model 3 had a massive profit margin?

          I’m sure Ford was loosing money on the Fiesta and C-Max and probably not doing that well on the Focus. The Fusion was undoubtably profitable but then it is not a small car either so who knows if that was in UBS’s calculations.

          Fact is the stock market doesn’t focus on the long term and dividends any more, they are all about stock price and operating margins and the goal was dropping the low margin vehicles in an attempt to boost that number from the ~8% to double digit territory even if that means lower overall profit.

        • 0 avatar
          notwhoithink

          “UBS analyst Colin Langan estimates that Ford loses $800 million a year selling small cars in North America.”

          So that’s small cars, what about midsize and full size cars? While the margins aren’t as good as on the trucks and SUVs, they’re probably making some money. That could certainly be further optimized by reducing the number of different options available. The Fusion, for Example, has 5 different trim levels and a number of different option packages available on each of them, leading to an absurd number of possible combinations. In fact, wasn’t the former CEO planning to do just such a thing?

          “Ford has made a lot of stupid mistakes, but they are trying to get their stock healthy again… ceasing to sell cars that help the dividend runs counter to that.”

          I generally have a very low approval of any company that spends its time and effort chasing short-term stock market approval. The only way to win at that game is to ignore the analysts and do what is best for the long-term interests of the company. The current CEO seems to be doing the exact opposite, by eliminating anything that isn’t high margin and trying to goose the numbers as much as humanly possible. That might result in short term gains in stock price and in his own compensation, but in the long term it’s going to cost them a lot of business and mindshare. I can’t tell you how many people I see on various forums advising others to not buy a Ford car because Ford has discontinued them (even though they haven’t yet).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Why not go back to a-la carte? Considering the 23 different configurations of the F-series, it’s not like it would be difficult.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    All Ford is doing is trying to get Ford sedan owners to buy into the CUV craze… whether those owners want a CUV or not. To be honest, were it just for me and I didn’t have other needs, I would far prefer a coupe over a sedan OR CUV. Admittedly I just purchased a mid-sized pickup truck but that’s due to a current need to carry bulky items around and a future intent to purchase a travel trailer. Had I the space, I’d probably purchase a Fiat 128 as a toy/daily driver but then the truck wouldn’t be driven nearly as much.

    In other words, those people who don’t want/like CUVs aren’t going to buy one just because Ford put some incentives on them.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      And then there are those of us who absolutely loathe SUV’s/CUV’s, whether our emotions are rational or not. The people who would rather walk or bicycle than be seen owning one.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      You just demonstrated that people don’t always buy what they want.

      I don’t know that anyone “wants” a Ford sedan. They do fit many people’s needs. The problem is Ford cannot sell them to anyone at a price that makes sense for the business, for a long list of reasons… many of which are beyond Ford’s control.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @sportyaccordy: “You just demonstrated that people don’t always buy what they want.
        I don’t know that anyone “wants” a Ford sedan. They do fit many people’s needs. The problem is Ford cannot sell them to anyone at a price that makes sense for the business, for a long list of reasons… many of which are beyond Ford’s control.”

        True. But what if the buyer neither wants nor needs a CUV and the CUV is, in fact, too big for their needs, for whatever reason. Why should they be ‘forced’ to buy a CUV?

        Now, as I said before, Ford is planning on using ‘incentives’ to convince people to stay with Ford. If you ask me, any ‘incentive’ strong enough to even make one consider staying a Ford customer is going to take the profit on that CUV into the negative range. Ford’s more likely to see seriously reduced profits on those CUVs than they would by just letting the sedan buyers go elsewhere.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          They have a tiny CUV now and guess what it is selling like hot cakes because there are a lot of people out there who want a tiny CUV and will pay more for it than for a larger car.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Scoutdude: I don’t believe there’s any need for me to iterate my opinion of their “tiny CUV.” My argument is that those who are currently owning a Ford sedan of ANY size are unlikely to buy a CUV of any size; if they had wanted one, they’d have purchased one already. Some people have trouble climbing up into even the smallest of CUVs and far prefer to sit DOWN into their cars, not up.

            It looks to me like the imports, just like they did back in the late ’60s, are going to take over another segment of the American automotive market and it will take another “Chicken Tax” to re-inspire domestic sedan/coupe manufacture by driving the price of those imports up so the domestics can make a profit again.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            The Ecosport, Scoutdude?

            You mean, the Ecosport that’s getting outsold by the Focus that no one supposedly wants?

            https://media.ford.com/content/dam/fordmedia/North%20America/US/2018/10/02/18-sept-sales.pdf

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            @FreedMike

            the Focus has been essentially given away for the past year or two. there’s over $5k on the hoods of some of them.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Ford isn’t forcing anyone to do anything. They’ve taken away some choices for people. But people are free to make other choices.

          Ford cannot sell cars profitably. Their mainstream cars have stumbled and sputtered for the last 40+ years, outside of a few hits here and there. The industry pressures they are up against now were the last straw. I think it’s an extreme move but they are in an extreme position. When your net income is about $8B a year you can’t afford to eat a $1B loss to retain market share.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @sporty: I would remind you of what Ford said when they dropped the Ranger. They effectively lost 50% of their user base for the Ranger, with roughly half going to the F-150 as they’d hoped and the other half going to the Toyota Tacoma.

            Maybe Ford hoped that by abandoning the mid-sized market that they could ultimately kill it off; it hurt them instead; especially when you consider the effect of going aluminum had on their truck sales for three years and the lower profits they’re now realizing from those more-expensive-to-build trucks. Granted, it would be even more expensive to re-tool back to steel bodies but they’re not going to realize the kinds of profits they used to get until they’re able to sell those trucks at their high MSRP. Putting $7K+ on the hood hurts the gross profit line which ultimately hurts the net profit line.

        • 0 avatar
          notwhoithink

          I believe the article indicated that most of the incentives will be aimed at truck buyers. I don’t know if/when this started yet, but I’ve been getting a seemingly endless stream of email offers from the Ford dealer that I bought my Fusion from trying to get me into a truck for the past month now. I have no need for or interest in owning a truck. Consequently we have likely bought our last Ford. My wife really likes her Edge (she’s on her second one), but the fact that they dropped the NA V6 was a deal breaker for her (and me).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Logical question here: Why would Ford be incentivizing a DOWNGRADE from truck to CUV? The pickup trucks offer far more gross profit than any other platform… up to 50% of the MSRP and perhaps higher for their highest trims (like the Raptor.) Ford needs money and the pickup trucks are their biggest-selling products. Downgrading a customer from a truck to a CUV just doesn’t make sense.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        People always buy what they want, they just don’t admit, sometimes to themselves, what they really want.

        Being in Real Estate if I showed people only what they told me they want then I’d be broke. Instead I figure out what they really want, show that to them and guess what they actually buy.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @Scoutdude: Not true. They don’t always buy what they want; they buy what they can get that comes closest to what they want. This includes me.

          To be honest, in real estate, most shoppers don’t really know WHAT they want, outside of some few minimum specs. First time buyers don’t even know what they’re looking at and can be easily steered into something they either can’t afford up front or can’t afford down the road as maintenance costs go higher than expected. House buying is typically a once- or twice-in-a lifetime type of purchase. It’s easy to be taken in by a fresh paint job and what looks like a clean and well-maintained home. Too few actually look into the nooks and crannies to realize the place needs new insulation, a new roof, new AC unit, floor beam supports, etc.

          So real estate really isn’t the same as car buying, where the buyer typically goes in knowing at least the minimum of what they want. In my case, I avoided buying sedans because I simply saw no need for a full four doors on a personal car. I bought two SUVs over the years, though would have been happy with 2-door versions I acknowledged there would be some need for carrying more than the available coupes (of which there were very, very few) with more power than the available wagons (which were slower than even the sedans when I was looking.)

          My latest two purchases are a sub-compact SUV (yes, 4×4) and an extended-cab, mid-sized, pickup truck. I custom ordered the truck. I haven’t ever purchased a sedan, nor have I purchased one of those rounded eggs on wheels people call a CUV; I doubt I ever will. The exception, if there ever is one, will be battery powered and probably built by Tesla.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Sorry I didn’t put the disclaimer that they had to want something that was within the realm of the laws of Physics and economics, both personal and global levels.

            You bought what you wanted make no mistake about it, you ordered it to your spec, you didn’t buy one off the lot. The fact that you wish you could get a truck that would be physically impossible to build, make pass modern standards and not be priced in the stratosphere is irrelevant.

            Yes there are a handful of people who do only buy one or two houses in their lifetime, however that number is shrinking along with the people who work for one company for most of their adult life.

            That is why I’m very careful with my clients, particularly the first time buyers, because I know chances are if I’ve done my job right more likely than not I’ll be listing that house in the next 3-7 years. I want them to buy right so they won’t be nickled and dimed to death or be sitting on a pig that needs a lot of work.

            Of course as is shown by Ford’s actions of dropping the profitable Fusion in an attempt to boost the stock price in the short term, very few people either know how to play the long game or are willing to.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Still false, Scoutdude. What I wanted wasn’t available, so I chose the next best thing–getting as close as possible to what I wanted.

            Meanwhile, I’ve been living in my house for 13 years; it seems my real estate agent was the better one, since I’ve seen no need to leave, as yet.

  • avatar
    forward_look

    How can you have a focus when you don’t have a Focus?

  • avatar
    RSF

    I’m going to have a hard time buying another Ford if the current leadership is in place. Mr. Hackett isn’t a car guy and the whole vibe of the company has been moving away from building product that people want to buy. I’m not even confident the next generation of trucks under this leadership will be as strong as the current gen. Seems like cost cutting will be pushed hard. We don’t want all this mobility nonsense as the primary focus of the company either.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I could care less about this kind of personality issue – I care about what they’re offering for sale. Unfortunately, if all these guys are going to sell is trucks and crossovers – neither of which hold any real interest for me – then I won’t be doing business with them.

    • 0 avatar
      3SpeedAutomatic

      This is classic MBA mindset.

      Obsess over margins (trucks & SUVs) at the expense of customer focus (sedans) in order to keep the corporate raiders (Carl Icahn) at bay. This is the same method as SEARS, A&P food stores, BlockBuster, etc and we know where they are. Bill Ford needs to stop chasing tax credits for the Detroit train station and start chasing customers!!

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Ford’s woes will only dramatically worsen from here, with incompetent execs such as Farley and Hackett at the top, and a spineless Ford Family of existing generation morons that lack even the most fundamental understanding of how to pick the right leaders to run a capex intensive company, in a capex intensive, and highly global, industry.

    Ford will be compelled to keep cutting models and employees to offset the revenue loss that follows from cutting product and slowing global sales.

    Now wait for the prodigy Baruth Brothers (especially the little one, who is an expert on all things automotive because he does something related to selling advertising packages – they call this marketing and sales and it’s the modern day equivalent of the new car dealership classifieds in the Sunday Papers) tell me how wrong I am, being prodigies and all.

    Hackett is destroying Ford in real time. Not even the F Series Franchise is safe from YoY sales and revenue decline going forward anymore ‘given the competition, and so it can’t paper over the black hole that is the likes of Hackett.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Ford was self destructing long before Hackett got in. For example, Focus sales peaked in 2012. It will probably take another decade to clean out the stench of Powershift. Should Ford continue to forego $1B/year (or more if they update and retool for the new generation) of profit to retain market share and the meaningless approval of TTAC’s foamiest mouthed lunatic? In my opinion, no.

      All cars was extreme IMO. They should have kept the Fusion, and maybe the FoST/FiST. But they’re doing what they feel they need to do. Better to do something than stay the course and go out of business- which I’m sure you’d use as an opportunity to beg for attention and hyperbolize as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @sporty: “All cars was extreme IMO. They should have kept the Fusion, and maybe the FoST/FiST. But they’re doing what they feel they need to do. Better to do something than stay the course and go out of business- which I’m sure you’d use as an opportunity to beg for attention and hyperbolize as well.”

        — GM did the same sort of thing a little over 10 years ago, and you saw where it took them. You’re implying that it’s an either-or when in truth there are many decisions made over the last several years that have led them to this point. The money they spent making aluminum pickup trucks could have been better spent making better cars–different cars. One of their biggest problems with their cars was that they all looked like clones of each other, which immediately killed the desirability of most by destroying the individuality of each. Old-school design had each model at least somewhat unique in external appearance and interior details. When every car you make looks like every OTHER car you make, why would anyone pick one over the other. The Mustang is the ONLY “unique” car Ford builds, which is one reason why they chose to keep it.

        Now look at Ford’s CUVs. How much real individuality is there between them?

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          No money would not have been better spent on cars. Cars are low margin period. Cars are a shrinking market period.

          Mainstream cars are low margin. Some trucks are low margin but a huge chunk of them have massive margins.

          You don’t need a degree in economics to see that every dollar spent on the F-series will have a higher return than a dollar spent on anything else.

          I do agree with you that in general Ford’s models have looked too much like their stable mates.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          @Vulpine, what are you talking about. Honda, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Lexus all have vehicle lineups that look the same. Nobody is buying a mainstream crossover for “individuality”. So let’s nip that in the bud off the rip.

          And GM has never gone a year in the post war era without sedans. In 2008 I’m certain they had the Aveo, Cobalt, Malibu and Impala sedans, along with Pontiacs, Buicks, Saturns and Cadillacs. There is no historical precedent or past experience to reference for this move.

  • avatar
    MatadorX

    The only reason our current Ford (Milan) is as reliable as it has been, is that Mazda supplied most of the important parts. The items that have failed are all Mexico specific Ford parts, the USA built Mazda 6 twin has none of those issues. I have zero confidence that a Ford drive train will hold up in the same way, especially the turbo in current Fusions. Also, FORD’s habit of discontinuing every part you need at the 5 year mark, has meant I’ve been shopping for parts for the Milan at the Mazda dealer parts counter for the past 3 years (it’s only an ’09!!!)

    Next car we are cutting out the middle man, and going straight to a J-VIN Mazda 6.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      You are contradicting yourself there, you say that all the parts that have failed have been the Ford specific parts, but then you say you’ve been buying parts at the Mazda dealer for the last 3 years. The Mazda dealer is not going to have the Ford specific parts.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @Scoutdude: ” The Mazda dealer is not going to have the Ford specific parts.”

        — That’s exactly his point. He’s not contradicting himself, he’s making it quite clear that the Mazda-equivalent model that shares parts with said Ford, doesn’t have any Ford parts and is therefore more reliable than the Ford.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Did you read his comments.

          “The items that have failed are all Mexico specific Ford parts,the USA built Mazda 6 twin has none of those issues.”

          Followed by

          “FORD’s habit of discontinuing every part you need at the 5 year mark, has meant I’ve been shopping for parts for the Milan at the Mazda dealer parts counter for the past 3 years”

          So the only parts that have failed are the parts that are unique to the Ford, yet he has been buying parts at the Mazda dealer that won’t have those Ford Unique parts.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Scoutdude: “FORD’s habit of discontinuing every part you need at the 5 year mark, has meant I’ve been shopping for parts for the Milan at the Mazda dealer parts counter for the past 3 years”

            — This statement suggests that Ford has been operating illegally for several years, since there is a governmental requirement that any OEM MUST maintain availability of repair parts for a minimum of 7 years AFTER the model has been taken out of production. If said parts are running out of stock after a mere 5 years… on vehicles that may still be in production… Well?

            So you’re barking up the wrong tree.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    @Scoutdude: ” The Mazda dealer is not going to have the Ford specific parts.”

    — That’s exactly his point. He’s not contradicting himself, he’s making it quite clear that the Mazda-equivalent model that shares parts with said Ford, doesn’t have any Ford parts and is therefore more reliable than the Ford.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Vulpine–I don’t see tariffs in the US as a threat to most Japanese, South Korean, and many German brands since they have plants throughout the US. I think it is harder for Ford and GM to compete in the car business with the Japanese and South Koreans even if they discount. With the exception of trucks, suvs, and crossovers the profit is just not there for Ford, GM, and FCA in cars even if they make a small profit it is more profitable to convert those plants to making trucks, suvs, and crossovers. I doubt Ford is making that much profit on the Lincoln Continental.

    I do agree with Dead Weight that in the long run Ford cutting their way to short term profit and a higher stock price is not a sustainable business practice. A credenza man is not going to have as much enthusiasm for cars and the car business as someone who eats, lives, and breathes cars. Also agree with his assessment of the Barath brothers in that they can be blinded by their own opinions. Agree with Ford cutting cars for now but Ford needs to have a plan for developing vehicles that the consumer will buy and keeping those models fresh instead of letting them linger on with little or no changes. Ford is going to have to have a regular flow of new fresh vehicles to keep the customer coming back. Much more to the car business than file cabinets, credenzas, office chairs, and desks. Got to keep fresh products and give the customer a reason to buy your product. Even Kia is taking some chances to broaden their products appeal.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Jeff S: “I don’t see tariffs in the US as a threat to most Japanese, South Korean, and many German brands since they have plants throughout the US.”

      — While I would agree with you, I’d say that you really don’t understand our current administration here in the States. Considering what has already been done, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if they don’t at least try to find some way to de-incentivise foreign brands through redefining a company’s operations as run from their corporate headquarters, not their US division or some similar tactic.

      He’s already proven quite willing to bankrupt his suppliers and contractors just to put more money in his own pocket.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Buying cars was much more of a tri-annual event when body styles changed every year. When they started dragging on for five years, sales started to slow to the point that the number of coupe models started dropping and now that they’re dragging body styles out to ten years there’s simply not enough individuality out there any more. Add to this that even in-brand, the body styles becoming practical clones of each other is killing the market.

      People complain about how Toyota and Nissan are hanging onto platforms for ten years and more but their body styles at least get somewhat of a refresh that makes them look different about every 3-4 years. Ford’s gotten to where they only do that with their pickup trucks. GM and FCA, too.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Vulpine–True. I live in the states. Trump could tax the heck out of any part that is not made in the US. It would take a substantial tax to take the competition away from domestic brands and even then the domestics would most likely raise their prices to equal the foreign brands. I don’t disagree with Ford’s approach on phasing out most automobiles but they need to have a backup plan in case trucks, crossovers, and suvs no longer sell because of increased fuel costs or a downturn in the economy. Ford also needs to keep their products fresh.

    It took Ford years to come back with a new midsize truck which they let the old one carry on with little or no changes for years. Ford’s problems are deep.

  • avatar
    readallover

    I have always wondered how many Olds/Pontiac/Saturn owners GM was able to retain, but could never find any stats on this. (I assumed it was because the numbers are not flattering to the General.)

  • avatar

    Here’s feedback from a long-term customer for Ford to chew on: I have purchased or leased seven Ford vehicles over the last 25 years, but will not be purchasing any more Ford products, because Ford has decided to discontinue making the types of vehicles I wish to buy. I’ve enjoyed the various Ford vehicles I’ve owned, having found all of them reliable and confidence-inspiring to drive. It’s disappointing for Ford to abandon a vehicle class where other manufacturers still are able to make a profit (while constantly improving the product). If Ford is unable to make a profit from selling hundreds of thousands of cars annually in the US, then there is something deeply and fundamentally wrong with Ford. The decision to abandon the car market (except for Mustang) in the US smacks of short-term thinking that rarely works out. Ford, you’ve decided to pursue the latest fads in the auto business rather than sticking to what you’ve been successfully doing for a century. Look back at your history and you’ll see the obvious, i.e. nothing remains the same in the auto business. What will happen to your SUV profits when the price of gas once again goes up? What will you sell then?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Don’t see too many old Oldsmobiles on the road but still see a few Pontiacs and Saturns which have now reached hooptie status. Wait a few years and you will see Focus, Fiesta, and Fusions that will become the new hoopties.

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    The dealers ARE the problem. I do my own maintenance, but because I didn’t spend hundreds of dollars every year at the dealership, they pretended my warranty issues don’t exist. As soon as my Mustang was out of warranty they could hear the strut top popping and offered to fix it for $800. When I told them it was a documented pre-existing condition they told me to pound sand. Ford’s warranty is worthless to me. I’m buying Toyota next time.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Sad to say, some things never change. I was a huge Ford fan a long time ago, but the dealers were the worst part of any repair. 30+ years ago, you had to take the car back to the selling dealer for warranty work, which they later relented. Even after, you had obstacles to getting some kinds of work done to your car under warranty.

      My experience with other dealers has varied. I bought a new Pontiac in 2001 and the dealer at the time was very good, an old school family style operation. But, the principal died in 2003 and was the dealership was snapped up by a dealer group. The service suffered after that. I had a particularly defective car in the mid-2000’s and I had purchased a GMPP Extended Warranty. But these folks took to arguing with me about the coverage of the extended warranty. I really believe they argued with me because I bought the GMPP warranty online and not from them. They would fix the car, but not without a lot of grousing. I started buying Chevys after that.

      My experience with Honda and Toyota dealers has been equally mixed; some were very good, some were awful. A similar issue happened with the Honda dealer my mother had been using, when it was still a smaller operation, they were really good. But later, they either got bought out or sold out to a dealer group. It was downhill from there. My FILs Toyota store was part of a huge dealer group, it’s just that Southeast Toyota Distributors liked to squeeze customers every way possible. But, he kept on going back for more, up until he’d had enough. One crappy Camry and then he bought Fords until he passed.

      I’m not saying you should not buy a Toyota, but check out the dealership you want to use, first.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    I adored my C-Max. But I dumped it far sooner than I had planned, at the cost of truly epic depreciation, because I was scared to own the damn thing out of warranty. It had so many recalls that we didn’t even get to all of the repairs before the warranty ran out. At 70k miles the engine shuddered upon shutoff, the transmission and wheel bearings had already failed and been replaced, and torsional rigidity was so poor that the car creaked like a pirate ship simply turning into a normal driveway. I later learned the latter may have been because of failed A-pillar welds; good thing I never got in a wreck in the thing, I guess. Yet I was still sad to see it go.

    Ford knows how to make an appealing product…but if it wants to keep customers, it should finish engineering the car before releasing it, err on the side of overbuilding rather than underbuilding for strength, and assemble it with some semblance of care.

    The one truly outstanding vehicle in Ford’s lineup is the Fusion: looks great, handles great, fine value. And yet they have let it wither on the vine…and now they are quitting it and all other passenger cars. I really don’t know what they’re thinking.


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