Ford: Future Performance Less About Numbers, More a State of Mind

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
ford future performance less about numbers more a state of mind

Dave Pericak, former head of Ford Performance and now responsible for the brand’s icon models, told CNET on the sidelines of the Chicago Auto Show that evolving environmental regulations have forced the automaker to reassess how it views performance.

“A lot of countries are changing regulations so quickly, and so much, they’re almost forcing the performance products out,” he said.

“Our job is going to be two-fold,” Pericak continued. “One is to figure out how to continue to make performance that will exist in some of these regulated countries, even our own, and how do you do it so it’s a global offering?”

It’s a good question. Environmental regulations have indeed forced automakers to downsize displacement and re-familiarize themselves with turbocharging. Electrification is an option growing in popularity too, with many global automakers tossing battery packs into vehicles of all sizes at no small cost to themselves.

Ford doesn’t plan on tailoring powertrains for select markets moving forward, meaning America’s propensity for more power won’t mean a whole lot. Pericak claimed the company’s research shows quarter-mile times may not be the most important factor at buying time, and says to expect the industry to focus on offering performance experiences rather than sky-high specs.

We’re inclined to agree. It’s exceptionally difficult to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment from a car that’s trying to compete with a Saturn V rocket in terms of peak output (on the street); meanwhile, there’s a real lack of affordable performance models prioritizing low-speed thrills on the market. Yet eliminating vehicles like that from the lineup will probably discourage a subset of buyers who like big engines and burnt rubber.

From CNET:

Say a performance vehicle will run the quarter mile in 11 seconds. That may be fine and dandy to a younger buyer, “But what are they going to feel? What are they going to experience? How are they going to engage with the vehicle in a way they can feel the acceleration and power?” Those are the questions that surround next-generation performance cars for Ford.

“It doesn’t mean we still won’t make the car go like a bat out of hell,” Pericak added, “But maybe (0-to-60 mph times) aren’t the way we talk about it.”

According to Pericak, Ford hasn’t really decided exactly how this theory will manifest in future products. It sounds like he’s trying to soften the blow as displacement sizes continue to shrink in adherence with rigorous environmental standards. Appearance packages marketed as performance upgrades may also become more prevalent. However, don’t expect every model to start arriving as a three-cylinder with a bodykit.

Pericak said Ford won’t bin the Mustang or neuter it in a bid to be greener. The manufacturer just doesn’t see itself trying to customize global models to regional tastes anymore.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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6 of 43 comments
  • Ajla Ajla on Feb 13, 2020

    I have yet to experience any downside to having a fast vehicle. Being overpowered at all times gives a complete feeling of luxury for me. I think that is why Roll-Royces come with a "power reserve" gauge.

    • See 3 previous
    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Feb 14, 2020

      Got a 17 year old on your insurance? That was the chief downside I noticed.

  • Dividebytube Dividebytube on Feb 14, 2020

    I drive a rather low-tier "performance" car - all screaming 3.7L V6 of Mustang 6-speed manual fury ;) Sure I can do 0-60 in the low 5s (tricky with 235 tires and RWD), which is pretty rare when I can actually have the space to do that. But for daily max 45mph roads it is fun to shift, wring all I can out of the engine... and the throw it in a high gear to cruise. I've been tempted by more power! A supercharger, suspension mods... or heck, just buy a V8 Mustang or a EV. But so far I'm pretty happy with my slow V6. And it is funny to see how much performance has changed over the years. In the 80s/90s, my V6 Mustang would have been considered wicked fast. Now it's just middling.

  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Does this not sound and feel like the dawn of ICE automobiles in the early 20th century, but at double or triple speed speed!!There were a bunch of independent car markers by the late 1910’s. By the mid 20’s, we were dropping down to 10 or 15 producers as Henry was slashing the price of the Model T. The Great Depression hit, and we are down to the big three and several independents. For EVs, Tesla bolted out of the gate, the small three are in a mad dash to keep up. Europe was caught flat footed due to the VW scandal. Lucid, Lordstown, & Rivian are scrambling to up production to generate cash. Now the EV leader has taken a page from the Model T and is slashing prices putting the rest of the EV market in a tail spin. Deja vu……
  • Michael Eck With those mods, I wonder if it's tuned...
  • Mike-NB2 I'm not a Jeep guy, but I really, really like the 1978 Jeep Cherokee 4xe concept.
  • William I'm a big fan of 70s Lincolns. I really liked the 1980s Mark Vl. I thought it was very classy, and I never thought of it as a restyled Town Car. I did own a 1990 LSC, it was black over black leather interior. I loved the LSC as soon as they were introduced. I loved the sound of the duel exhaust, I thought it fit the car perfectly. I never had any problems with it. The 5.0 is a great engine, and never had any issues with the air suspension system. It had the the analog dash and I made good use of the message center. I highly recommend this Mark. The black paint and interior fit the car and me perfectly.