By on December 5, 2019

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Despite the average transaction price of your typical automobile climbing higher than ever before, there’s a lot of disagreement as to whether this actually amounts to more spending once inflation has been taken into account. Studies frequently show inflation-adjusted valuations climbing gradually over the years, resulting in MSRPs a few grand higher than what you might have spent in decades prior. Still, newer vehicles tend to have a much greater level of content and the ability to outlast something from 1970, helping to rationalize the difference. Data taken from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) actually suggests the average expenditure per vehicle actually peaked in the late 1990s before creeping back down.

Meanwhile, we keep hearing reports about the average transaction price of passenger vehicles settling above $37,000 for 2019. Cross referenced against the BEA data, that’s about $5,000 dearer than in 1999 — once you’ve shifted everything to present-day dollars. Blame people’s inability to say “no” to options, crossover popularity, or anything else you want. It won’t change the problem, especially as the wealth gap continues to widen between the haves and have nots.

Automakers know that sales are stagnating and Ford CEO Jim Hackett thinks he’s come up with a solution — and it’s a familiar one. It’s decontenting time. 

In a recent interview with Automotive News, Hackett said the company wants to deploy a “reductive design” strategy to help tamp down rising vehicle prices and dodge the need for riskier loans.

“We’re not doing the … below-market kind of loans, or what I call high probability of default,” the CEO explained. “We’re actually different than some of our competitors there, I want to point out. Much more conservative. We’ve actually written the balance sheet down, which obliges the company less if there’s any kind of recession.”

From Automotive News:

After cutting back its car offerings, Ford’s vehicle pricing has skewed significantly higher than in previous years. The average transaction price for the F-150 pickup was $48,170 in the third quarter, according to Edmunds.

For the Escape and Explorer crossovers, the average transaction prices were $28,613 and $45,762. Those are three of Ford’s most popular vehicles. The industry average transaction price for a new vehicle in November was $37,981.

Ford says it also wants to help lower vehicle ownership costs by syncing Ford Motor Credit with connected car technology. This year, the company introduced Ford Insure — a service that sends driving data from customer vehicles to an auto insurance provider. It’s supposed to help lower insurance premiums for consumers with good driving habits, provided they’re willing to be monitored. Big Brother is watching… with coupons at the ready.

Exactly what content Ford is willing to cut is a mystery, however. Hackett referenced things like garage door openers and CD players. Yet those are hardly in-demand features for most modern drivers; meanwhile, Ford’s unlikely to ditch expensive new technologies that will help it leverage connectivity into a thriving, data-focused business model. Ivan Drury, senior manager of industry insights at Edmunds, said Ford’s decontenting might not even result in cost savings for buyers.

“Are they going to pass all that cost savings to the consumer? Not likely,” he said. “How often do you hear about [sticker prices] dropping year over year? Especially when you talk about these options that are defunct — we’re not talking about a lot of money.”

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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66 Comments on “Reductive Design: Ford’s Secret Recipe for Affordable Cars?...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    More displacement, less turbos, less hybridization jacking up costs, more solid axles, use already in production transmission designs, stop doing cars that are as boring as the fusion. All very simple ways to increase sales and decrease costs.

    Auto journalist won’t like it but they also gave the yugo car of the year so they have no idea what consumers want in their vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Stanley Steamer

      Boring is cheap. All those extra creases means more steel and higher tooling costs.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “ Boring is cheap. All those extra creases means more steel and higher tooling costs.”

        Extra creases do not make a car look better More expensive, or any less boring, prime example is the current gen Camry, boring as water.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      “more displacement, less turbos” – which competes against mileage, possibly driving up costs due to EPA rules
      “less hybridization” – well those are options, sure they spread the RD cost around but thats not much of a cost at all on non hybrid cars. Since buying a hybrid is a choice, and since hyrbid is arguably the future- this isn’t moving the needle at all.
      “stop making cars as boring as the fusion” – well, they already are discontinuing the fusion iirc?

      …but then “more solid axles” – how in god’s green earth is that going to increase sales? With notable but few exceptions, solid axles are worse for everything.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        As far as I can tell, Hummer honestly believes the mass consumer spends their time half-and-half between towing a 15k travel trailer and rock crawling.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “ but then “more solid axles” – how in god’s green earth is that going to increase sales? With notable but few exceptions, solid axles are worse for everything.”

        Can you remember a time in America where the best selling vehicle didn’t have a solid axle? You can whine about the merits of independent suspension but consumers given both options choose the solid axle.

        Consumers don’t care about EPA rules they want a good car that meets their needs and isn’t a total pile. Manufacturers would be smart to sell these types of vehicles if they want to create long term consumers.

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          But did you read the article? It isn’t about whats the best selling vehicle. It’s about making more affordable cars. Ya trucks sell well but putting a live axle in an ecosport won’t move more ecosports.

          To the second point, some consumers don’t care about EPA rules and some do, BUT if the manufacturers aren’t hitting their targets, they have to spread the costs of their EPA hit. So making your inexpensive vehicles efficient helps them remain inexpensive. It’s a lot easier to spread the EPA hit from F150s across F150s.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “Can you remember a time in America where the best selling vehicle didn’t have a solid axle?”

          He’s got us there.

    • 0 avatar
      boxcarclassic

      I agree! I wish the EPA would be shut down! With its CAFE standards that just get worse every year. You come to blogs like this and say millions of people want basic in their car or trucks,They want stronger bodies and frames,they dont want all the technology,You get the one guy telling you how wrong you are. That people dont want that anymore. Ive lived in several states.From the northeast to out west to down south. Im one guy and I know tons of people who want these vehicles im describing. The writers,journalists are clueless and put out lies,or hang around with their clicks and write off that. I know young guys early 20s who wish cadillac would bring back big land cruisers. Of course none of these writers will get out in the world and find out. College campus doesnt represent millions of youngsters.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Very funny. Do you really think people want to save $5k to buy a truck with 15mpg instead of 25mpg? Seriously, this is 2019. Or do you think people want to go back to compact pick up again? I doubt that.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        I’d make that trade in a heartbeat.

        At $2.50 a gallon 25 vs 15 mpg is a 75,000 mile payback period and I can find a better investment for the $5k over that period of time. Especially since a truck getting 15 mpg is likely to have an engine I’d enjoy more on a day to day basis than one getting 25 mpg.

        Seriously, gas prices are not high enough to be an important factor for anyone with the financial means to buy a new vehicle. They just have an outsized impact in our lives because we buy gas all the time and the price is prominently advertised.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “Very funny. Do you really think people want to save $5k to buy a truck with 15mpg instead of 25mpg? Seriously, this is 2019. Or do you think people want to go back to compact pick up again?”

        How did it go down to 15MPG? A lot of the tech used to get 25MPG is simple and has been amortized perhaps not 25, but 21 or so would be simple without the extra material costs. I think a lot of people want to buy a compact pickup, but not a single manufacturer is even hinting at building one. Not one.
        As you said, this IS 2019 all of this stuff should be a no brainer from anyone paying attention to history.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Ford doesn’t sell cars anymore. They only sell high margin pickups and SUVs. No way they are decontenting those. In fact given truck prices and options it appears to be going in the opposite direction.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I disagree, they will because its a desperate move to save money. GM did as such in the mid-00s too, I think I’ve mentioned the very serious rumor which circulated at Manheim in July 2005 that GM was declaring bankruptcy the following week. Didn’t happen, but then in Q3 08 they couldn’t kick the can anymore and the rest is history.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The new Explorer is a sign that Hackett is perfectly willing to decontent what should be high-margin vehicles. And the reviews, all of which mention a cheap-feeling interior, show the consequences clearly.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I don’t think Hackett has any idea how to make vehicles more affordable and this is just talk with little or no action. Eliminating garage door openers and CDs is not alone going to make vehicles more affordable and as for CDs they are dying out anyway with many manufacturers not even offering sound systems that play them. As for syncing driving data and providing it to insurance company that is less about making vehicles more affordable to buy and more about passing the responsibility onto the insurance companies. Hackett is a poor excuse for an auto executive and needs to go soon before there is no Ford Motor Corp. I am not just singling out Ford but I would include GM as well. Overpaid and bad CEOs seem to be a common thread among many corporations today especially in the automotive industry.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I was thinking the same thing when I read his interview in Automotive News. Oh, I get it now..garage door openers and CD changers were the 5k option I didn’t need. Seriously, they probably have a net cost of $21 combined.

      Hybridization is not going away; the only way to meet CAFE. As the cost comes down the true cost of ownership less fuel, maintenance will bring the TCO in line.

      Here is a question, how come you can’t choose your safety? Airbags are expensive, I believe the figures are like $2500 per for replacement. So If a car has drivers side, side curtain, side impact front and rear your are talking 10k worth of bags. Why can’t a consumer select what they need? Single, no kids or willing to roll the dice so to speak and only want standard front and passenger bags, order it up…That would go a long way in reducing costs. Have a number in the VIN to indicate the # of airbags installed…

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        There are a number of reasons why this isn’t done:

        -As you probably already know, the cost to replace a part is not the manufacturers cost to install it at the factory. There aren’t $10k worth of airbags in a car.

        -Economies of scale in manufacturing would further reduce the potential cost savings. Similar to all the skepticism about CD players and such, taking out airbags from a space designed for them just isn’t going to save you very much.

        -Most people don’t order cars, they buy what’s on the lot. Can you imagine the uproar if a sleazy dealer salesperson puts a family into a car without airbags (to meet a quota or something) and a kid is killed because an option box wasn’t ticked? No OEM is going to let that scenario play out. Even if they did, no dealer is going to want the publicity and every vehicle they stock will be optioned with every airbag.

        • 0 avatar
          millmech

          What about the kids killed by the airbags?

          • 0 avatar
            EGSE

            “What about the kids killed by the airbags?”

            What about the people saved by the airbags? Because I can tell you the ratio is hundreds of times greater in favor of airbags.

            Belted drivers in even todays cars W/O airbags are skirting fatal injury in a 30 MPH head-on between same vehicle type. The probability of significant trauma was such that when we pulled up to the scene in an ambulance we prepared for the worst out of learned habit. And more often than not we saw it.

            Then airbags started being installed, first in high-end cars like Mercedes, then Lee Iacocca equipped every ChryCo car with a driver’s side bag.

            We would make the scene, get out of the ambo with jump bags, run to the cars…..and they would be empty! No one inside. No blood, no unconscious or dying patients, no nothing. Turn to the bystanders “where are the drivers?”.

            Two people emerge from the crowd holding license and regs, exchanging insurance info. Walking, talking, often without a mark or maybe some bruising. The difference was like night and day.

            The above is not “anecdotal”, it happened again….and again.

            Babies were killed by airbag deployment when their parents/guardians didn’t follow the instructions in the owner’s manual to properly secure infants/youngins *in car seats*, **in the rear seat**. And airbag deployment force has evolved to compensate for passenger physiology.

            The “airbags are dangerous” trope is as invalid as the “seatbelts will kill you because you won’t be thrown clear of the wreck” BS. Takata notwithstanding of course…..

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      IMO they do know the way to make cars cheaper, but the “traditional” way of making products cheaper (building them overseas), is being strangled with tariffs and other pressure to build plants here.

      Not making any political statement here at all- it’s just my weaksauce understanding of what’s going on right now.

      It’s going to cost X much more to build a car in the US as it cost to build in some other country. Y is an important price point to hit to bring in business. If we take out the cd player and put in a cheaper headliner- how much closer to Y can we get?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Waaaaaaaaay OT:

    I notice a change in the masthead on the site this morning. Smaller font for “The Truth About Cars”, and a change from red to black?

    Also, all comments don’t load right off the bat. Trying to speed up page loads? Better accommodate mobile devices?

  • avatar
    Dan

    Decontenting doesn’t save any money on the production side. All of the major costs are already fixed, either by fed regulation or platform sharing.

    What he means by decontenting is the balancing act of making the touch points and bumper covers chitty enough to push richer people into the expensive trims while not chitty enough to push poorer people into another brand.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Cars weren’t any cheaper to build in 1970, adjusted for inflation. Stuff like FM radio, 8-tracks, power seats, 3-speed autos, power brakes, tilt wheel, cruise, etc, were cutting edge. And most controls were mechanical/links.

    Ford isn’t going to give up content that costs consumers money. Stuff like sound insulation and quality is a different story. But they don’t need to build vehicle drivetrains that last exponentially past the basic warranty, while everything else falls apart and replacement are obsolete/disco.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Electronics have became super cheap, however to counter act this cars are now stuffed full of them so the net result is a wash.

      So what is really driving up vehicle cost? Labor? Materials? I know in my industry (printing which is on life support) those are the two main factors influencing the cost of the final product. Workforce skills are down and quality has become standardized. Higher quality is easily achieved but only if pay for it. Just in time delivery and customization are the biggest revenue drivers. Many that is the path to profit in the auto industry as well.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        The marketplace sets the price/transactional, but labor is a relatively small expense, and sweatshop labor offsets unions. Over all costs are all over the board and very dependent on units sold, platforms shared, age of generations and others.

        But you have to assume it’s the electronics that will eventually total the late model vehicle, long before rust or a blown engine, trans or head gasket has a chance too. Although I have to giggle a little when the guy ahead of me at the auto parts store is told the TP sensor or such to his not too old Audi is “dealer only”, while similar parts to my F-150 are always on the self and easy reach.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “deploy a “reductive design” strategy” TRANSLATION “We need money quick!”

    Hack it good Mr. Hackett. Maybe not lighting money on fire with your “mobility” projects would have freed up some cash?

    You heard it here first, Ford is in trouble. The EV boondoggle must have been more expensive than they let on, and even if it does work its not going to produce much volume and I doubt the margins are very high to hit that advertised MSRP.

    GM is on a slow boat to China.
    Ford could be very well be heading into the winds of crisis.
    FCA has the potential to be the one ring that rules them all.

    PALPATINE: GOOOOODDD

  • avatar
    jfk-usaf

    Don’t reinvent what has already been invented, share platforms / engines (except for Lincoln, You need to differentiate there) and remove stupid options like interior lighting color choices and piped in fake exhaust sound.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      but those are literally the cheapest of the goofy toys they can give consumers to play with. The piping in engine noise is already figured out and I think that’s part of sync. What costs a lot is actually making exhaust for each engine configuration for each model sound good. (believe me, I do not appreciate piped in sound, but this just isn’t going to lead to a cheaper car).

      Going from a solid white to a color change led system is a couple extra dollars for LEDs and then the initial software program. Since it’s already programed into sync- that’s just a “fun bonus” that can make a consumer feel special.

      If you want to save money, get rid of sync.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Everytime I read an interview of Hackett I come away with a worse opinion of him. I don’t think history or the markets will be kind.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    They are rapidly becoming the Ford of the mid 1920’s. Maybe they will just offer the F150 in black only to save costs.
    Ok, Ok, thats a bit OTT, but hey, when the plastic oval Ford badge on their product cant last thru the base warranty without looking like poo, it would seem to me the rest of the vehicle has ALREADY been de-contented in quality and lasting value, let alone taking the Hackett to any other costs and content.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    The auto manufacturer’s “fast and furious” way to reduce cost quickly is to to further squeeze their Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers.

    Those will respond in kind by further cutting corners and sending jobs to countries further down in the economic ladder.

  • avatar
    KingShango

    More proof Hackett shouldn’t be in charge of anything. Ford was selling 300k Fusions a year and somehow wasn’t making any money despite it being built in Mexico. How?!

    Ford continues to learn the wrong lessons.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    For those playing along at home:
    – Transaction price is roughly MSRP less incentives

    Transaction price changes over time are driven by:
    – Model mix (ex. more pickups, fewer cars)
    – Trim mix (more King Ranch, fewer base models)
    – Option mix (higher take rate on existing options, along with new and exciting ‘Driver Protection’ type packages)
    – New regulatory/safety content (which may be priced at cost)
    – Pricing tied to new standard features or content
    – Pure price increases or decreases (change in price with no change in content)
    – Incentive changes

  • avatar
    EGSE

    Ford first needs to make desirable vehicles. The F-150 *IS* sought after and customers are willing to splash out on options that push prices to the stratosphere.

    Honda and Toyota got their good reputation in the eyes of the consumer by building reliable cars. When they subsequently decontented their offerings, few ran away because of it. Decontenting cars that people don’t want in the first place is a fools errand.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Did Hackjob start this complete nonsense with the Explorer and MKExplorer?

    You cannot cut your way to profitability. You cannot cut quality to make more money. You cannot cut features people want to make more money.

    With how poorly Ford’s are built and perform today, what is this company going to look like when they start this nonsense?

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Most “decontenting” turns out to be, how to say this politely, stupid and counterproductive. Here is why:

    – During the development of a vehicle, there are many many choices to be made about materials, features, etc etc which will all have cost implications.
    – But most “decontenting” happens essentially after the fact – once your major model is developed and on the road.
    – So let’s take Mr. Hackett’s Homelink example. You’ve already done the development. You’ve already done the software. You’ve already paid for tooling for the little plastic escutcheon (does Ford mount Homelink on the visor?) and the buttons and the transmitter antenna. So at this point if you “decontent” all you really save is the piece cost of the hardware – which for Homelink would be the buttons and the circuitry and the transmitter antenna and the wiring harness changes.
    – And actually for Homelink this could make perfect sense. But if your “value” (what you charge the customer) for Homelink was say $150, you will never save the $150 by “decontenting” – you will save the incremental piece cost which is probably more like 20% or less of the value of the content.
    – Keep in mind that some of your customers still like Homelink and use Homelink and will curse your name for deleting it – but the reality is that every customer values every item of content differently than any other customer.
    – For a typical “Feature XYZ” – to introduce the feature, you have development and testing and tooling and yada yada. But when you delete “Feature XYZ” as part of a “decontenting” exercise, you only save the incremental piece cost. A typical “Feature XYZ” might have a customer value of $100 and an incremental piece cost of $3. So, OEM, enjoy your ‘savings’ of $3, but hope that the customer doesn’t notice or care – because if they do, you’ll now have to bump up your incentives and now we’ve gone backwards.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      In 1998 Ford decided to drop keyless entry since remote entry was all the rage and they had already added that to their cars, including models that did not have or weren’t available. Ford quickly learned how many of their customers valued keyless entry and for 99 all of the vehicles that had in in 97 got it back and they soon started offering it on other models too.

      Count me in on one who will be unhappy if they save the $5 dropping homelink. And don’t cut out any buttons either as I’ve got all 3 buttons programed in our vehicles with them.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    This is too easy.
    1. Power seats (nice, but if there’s only one primary driver, not very useful)
    2. Power tilt (see above, and how hard is it to pull a lever and adjust the wheel?)
    3. Heated steering wheel (gloves cost pennies)
    4. Driving nannies (collision avoidance is ok so long as it works right; lane-keeping is nonsense, as is rear detection. How fast are you going in reverse?)
    5. Sunroofs (I hate them because if they break when open, the car becomes undrivable)
    6. Black plastic fake scoops, ducts, and other fluff (see Honda, Toyota)
    7. Wheels bigger than 18s on any passenger car that gets groceries
    8. Touch screens (view only, no touchie)
    9. Electrical operation of parking brake, door handles, trunk lid, hood, dash vents, etc. (more motors = way more money, and plain old pull-cables work better)
    10. Stupid f’ing cars with no f’ing keys!

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Hey now, my wife and I very quickly fell in love with the heated steering wheel on our Town&Country. On a cold winter morning it’s warm within 30 seconds or so, nice and toasty within a minute and really makes you feel warmer overall (think sticking your hands out to warm by a fire), as the heated seats come up to temp and then finally the HVAC is blowing warm air as the coolant warms up enough.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @Mike: I tend to agree with all 10. No more touch screens, scrolling, etc. Actual analogue dials. Would also prefer to see a longer production cycle, to amortize development and machine/tooling costs.

      But then I would prefer a vehicle with an actual ignition switch, keyholes, crank windows and manual door locks.

      And leave 4wd/AWD to the pick-ups and jeeps and perhaps any remaining actual large SUV’s where it is really used.

      As for heated steering wheels and seats, my better half has now declared that they are necessary. So I have to concede to a higher power.

      So I am now off to shout at some incoming snow clouds.

    • 0 avatar
      forward_look

      Less doodads and gismos.

      I was just looking at a review of the new cheaper Seat EV. The back windows are flip out, not electric. Hmm, I seldom open rear windows. And sun roofs, what’s the point? I hate ’em. I like a radio, but not 27 speakers.

      Model T(e), guys, that’s what will put America on electric wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I adore keyless entry. No more stopping to fish a key out of my pocket that already has tons of other keys for my house, office, bike, etc. etc. in it. (And you can’t put them all on one ring; you’ll break your car’s ignition cylinder, and until that happens they will endlessly rattle.)

      Power seats, tilt, and mirrors with a memory feature that adjusts all of them are wonderful when you have two drivers driving regularly, as is true for both of the primary cars in my household.

      Rear cross-traffic alert is useful not because you’re going fast, but because the other guy is. Surround cameras are terrific when you are parking in tiny city spaces where an inch or two in one direction or the other can make the difference.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Well many of the things you listed are profit centers, ie they are options/part of an up level trim.

      1. Don’t take my power passenger seat, the wife needs to be comfortable too, and I ride over there some times too.
      2. Again don’t take that away from me because I prefer my car to be ready to drive even if the wife drove it last. So no power tilt and I’ll have to fiddle with it.
      3. Yeah I don’t like driving the wife’s car that doesn’t have it and if I’m buying the top of the line vehicle which I will it better have it.
      4. I’m a little mixed on these, but again these are often optional profit centers and becoming a must have in many customer’s minds.
      5. You can drive a car with an open sunroof and in fact that is the point. But again a massive profit center that is optional.
      6. Yeah
      7. To a point again wheels can be massive profit centers they can often charge $1000 or more for those bigger wheels that only cost an extra hundred or maybe two that the standard equipment.
      8. Again an optional extra and a profit center on many cars.
      9. I agree with most of those but I still miss the 80’s Mazda oscillating center vents.
      10. I hate my vehicles with actual keys after living with proximity keys. And yet again in most cases that is tied to an upper level trim and thus a profit center.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Re ‘keyless entry’. I remain unconvinced that replacing a $2.50 metal key with a $300 (to replace) programmed plastic key fob is an improvement.

        The minute you break or lose one of those key fobs they become a curse, not a benefit.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          So don’t break or lose your keys? I’ve owned 30+ vehicles over the past 30+ years, I have never once had an issue with a key other than a worn out ignition switch. Which won’t be a problem with a keyless system.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Congratulations. And your kids never get sick, your dog never drags in something it killed and no member of your family has ever been in a car accident? Sorry for being facetious, but things happen. And plastic programmed key fobs break or get lost all the time. That is why there are companies selling replacements.

            I would rather pay for a replacement key and than a replacement fob.

            Comfort ahead of utility is one thing, but when we make ‘comfort’ and the ‘elimination’ of all physical and mental effort the ‘be all and end all’ then we end up as a fat, physically and mentally lazy society. Winding down a window, pulling open a lock, inserting a key into a keyhole, manually adjusting a car seat are activities that are not particularly strenuous. But replacing them can add hundreds of dollars to car assembly/maintenance/repairs.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Of the four used vehicles I acquired recently (keyless entry, but not pushbutton start), three of them came with only one key – so entropy and disorder got a helping hand from someone other than me. For the two 2010’s, I’ve been quoted ~$450 for one new key with remote – no thanks. [Closer to $100 might be reasonable.]

            On the 2006, we transplanted the functional guts from the busted remote housing to a new remote housing. [Self-programming not possible.]

            My 2005 is old enough and ‘dumb’ enough that I got two new fobs from ebay [~$35 total] and programmed them myself (key is separate). I love that car…

            [The key on my 1995 wore down from use – ordered 5 new blanks for ~7 bucks and cut my own key with a Dremel.]

            Fobs (and huge keys) are convenient – but in the old days I could have all the family’s car keys on one (small) keyring.

            And “don’t lose it” never really works when the zombie apocalypse hits. Redundancy is a thing.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Sadly, no gloves I’ve found come close to equaling the heated wheel. Even gloves that cost a lot of money aren’t shit compared to the lovely heated wheel. I used to think, “A heated steering wheel? That’s ridiculous!”. Now I am older and wiser.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Studebaker in the late 50’s came out with the most base models of their cars and truck. Studebaker offered a driver’s side sun visor only, no dome light, no radio, painted bumpers, painted hub caps, and painted grill, and extra for the radio,heater, and spare tire. Studebaker sold lots of these strippers under the Scotsman brand and for a while it helped keep the lights on but we all know what eventually happened to Studebaker. I don’t believe the Government would allow Ford to cut safety features and much of what was said by others is true that cutting some of the standard items would save little if anything. Ford’s problems stem mainly from bad management and Ford could start saving money by canning Hackett.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This makes me despair for Ford.

    Cost-cutting is fine where it has no consumer impact. But consumers do notice things like missing features. Ford built up a bit of a near-premium reputation during the first half of this decade, which supported real transaction price increases, and it looks like Hackett is happy to throw that away in the name of singleminded focus on the expense side of the P&L.

    At a minimum it certainly doesn’t look like he’s learning from the new Explorer debacle or all the reviews saying basically “The new Explorer has tons of potential but it has quality problems and feels cheap.”

  • avatar
    Windy

    Why has no automaker made true Vertical integration work? Ford made the strongest run at it last century with its Rouge River complex but even they could make it work… It “Feels” like it should work; but even the USSR and other planed economies could not make it work either? if you can point me to a good book on why these attempts failed (esp the Ford experiments with it) thanks in advance.
    raw materials in and finished car out the other end…. back before electronics were a part of automobiles it looks like it was feasible …. today with complex electronics being such a large part of the finished goods …. well the need to have your own INTEL chip complex with high level software integration (and we know how less than good, car makers have been at infotainment human interface design)

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      Even much simpler products than cars are not vertically integrated. MBA gospel is to focus on your core competencies (i.e. Ford management is not equipped to understand steelmaking).

      Modern manufacturing practices and inventory control has made the advantages of vertical integration somewhat redundant while the disadvantages remain. Back before it was understood how to optimize production, it was helpful to have extra capacity to provide subcomponents or even raw materials on site. Now that is just added cost and inefficiency. Let the suppliers build what they are optimized for, and let the OEM build what they are optimized for.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    One would think they will only be decontenting at the lower end of the vehicle food chain. Crossovers like Escape, Ecosport and maybe Ranger. People with no money are already not considering pricey vehicles like F150’s and Explorers.

    But take an F150 for instance. How much could you save by dropping a powertrain in it that is long since paid for. 3.5 V6, 6speed auto, cloth seats, halogen bulbs all around, anolog/dot matrix screens from the 1990’s, solid rear axle, drum brakes, steelies, the list of items goes on and on. Look at a truck that underpins a U-haul, there is literally no fluff. Just get from point A to point B.

    Funny thing is, a well appointed $45,000 F150 probably costs Ford less than $20,000 to manufacture. Sell a decontented one for $30,000 and you are still making bank.

    It boggles my mind that so many people are willing to pay for vehicles these days by the pound. “New” trucks are the greatest rip off going and people line up to scream “take my money!”

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      They’re a decent value if you’re OK with basic trim and besides, carpet in a truck (or anything below a 7-series) never has made sense to me. Where else can you get options ala-carts (or lack of)?

      If you can put the pickup, 4wd and real crew cab to good use, they can be an incredible value, with unmatched “resale”.

      But their crazy profits can only come from ridiculous volume sales. They couldn’t happen otherwise, or would suck like the Tundra/Titan.

      “Value” can be defined many ways, but consumers aren’t that stupid for the most part,

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      FCA is doing that with the 2019 RAM 1500 Classic. My 2002 RCLB F-150 has rust that can’t be ignored and I’m weighing a replace or repair decision.

      I went to the CJDR dealer and looked at trucks, grabbed a brochure and went to the on-line configurator. My needs are best met by a RCLB Tradesman trim and I checked some boxes…5.7 engine, LSD diff, nicer cloth seats, mid-line UConnect (to get Bluetooth and the better backup cam), keyless entry, power windows/locks, sliding rear window, cruise, trailer-brake ctl, carpet with mats.

      Comes standard with A/C, spray-in bedliner, HD 8 spd auto trans, class 4 hitch (!), 4 wheel disc brakes, automatic halogens and incandescent lamps. Can’t get heated seats/wheel (damn). Steelies with 17″ tires are standard (and preferable). And a nice red paint is no cost. All that in the low $30K region. And they’re willing to deal from there. I’m confident it could be had for $30K or a bit less maybe before freight charge. The dealer is OK with a special order. It’s a really nice truck and value-for-money it can’t be topped IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        That’s right it can’t be topped. But forget about the heated seat/steered wheel, LEDs and others. It’s a “Classic” (’09+), so all those upgrades (and a few others) are probably at your local dismantler/U-Pull or will get there shortly.

        I started out with the ’05 F-150 fresh body style XL (STX) so I had to wait a couple years, but eventually the countryside become littered with “like” F-150s. Now I have (the world’s only) XL- XLT-Lariat-King-Ranch-FX4 supercab F-150. It’s like a song from Johnny Cash or something.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Professor Moonbeam-Hackett gave another interview recently. His responses were essentially indecipherable to anyone not riding the same rainbow, but I gather he couldn’t care less what Wall Street thinks, because, well, they just don’t understand. But contribution margins are good, says the Moonbeam, while others wondered what contribution margin was in the first place.

    It’s safe to say Ford is now being led by a strange person. And old Mullaly? Well he presided over the intro of the crap DCT transmission in the Focus, which is all set to really blow up with NHTSA according to the Detroit Free press. He spent more time issuing press releases about how good he was than actually doing anything, it now seems.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I fail to see why this is a problem. There are no shortage of cheap new cars, and they are better than a luxury car of 30 years ago in many ways. Average transaction prices are up simply because people CHOOSE to buy more expensive vehicles. Can’t afford that, buy something cheap and cheerful or buy something used.

    Nobody wants a hairshirt on wheels. Well other than a few idiots who hang out on this website.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I have a friend who is…frugal. He would happily buy a “hairshirt” truck, with rollup windows, no power doorlocks, an AM/FM radio, no carpet, no headliner, a fairly powerful 6 cyl engine and an automatic trans. Yes, he would buy something like this! But what he really really wants is to go back to the old days when every option was “ala carte” and you could just go through the options when ordering a car or truck and pick only what you wanted. He would love to buy a Challenger with the 6.4 and auto, with base equipment, along with the heated seats and wheel. That’s it, nothing else. But you have to go up several models from base to get the 6.4, and it’s “too expensive”. He would also be really interested in some sort of “old man’s” suspension package, as my Scat Pack “rides way too hard”. His car wants make me laugh, along with his faceblindedness. He claims people on TV “look like twins” all the time, and it’s just too funny. To someone who isn’t faceblind, they look nothing alike, and when I laugh at his “twins” claims, he gets all flustered and insists I’m “lying” when I say they don’t look anything alike.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        To me pickup trucks are distinct from cars. They are WORK vehicles. The ONLY way I would buy one is as cheaply as possible, with no frills and a hose-out interior. Smallest engine that will grudgingly get the job done.

        I have no use at all of silly-priced Cowboy Cadillacs.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I did exactly that I bought a loaded low mileage 2012 Buick Lacrosse Premium edition at a price lower than a new Mitsubishi Mirage. So affordable I wrote a check and closed at the County Clerk’s office where I payed tax and licensing fees with no dealer or commissions. Far from being a hairy shirt and more like a Lincoln and Cadillac.

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