Here’s Ford’s Plan to Replace All the Cars It’s Killing Off in North America Receive updates on the best of TheTruthAboutCars.com
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.]