Ford Commits to Affordable, Efficient Vehicles While Slashing Passenger Car Lineup
Future Ford Passenger Cars to Only Include Mustang and Variant of Focus
Ford CEO Jim Hackett announced Wednesday that the company would not build next-generation versions of the Taurus, Fiesta, Fusion, C-Max, or Focus for the North American market within the next few years, prioritizing trucks and utility vehicles for the U.S.
The move has reportedly raised some concerns among the company’s dealers, who worry the loss of lower-priced, efficiency-oriented vehicles could result in buyers abandoning the brand, according to the Detroit News. However, Ford executive Jim Farley promised the loss of sedans wouldn’t necessarily mean a lack of affordable, fuel-efficient options.
One example could be the Focus Active, a crossover-ish version of the new Focus that will join the Mustang as the only carlike vehicles in Ford’s stable. Revealed last month and built in China, the Focus Active will very likely come with a 1.5L EcoBoost I-4 with about 150 hp; mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, expect the Focus Active to hit about 34 mpg on the highway.
Currently, however, the company’s crossover lineup leaves a bit on the table in terms of efficiency. The front-wheel-drive Ford EcoSport, which is currently the company’s cheapest utility vehicle, only manages a disappointing 29 mpg highway, compared to the Fiesta’s standard 35 mpg. The EcoSport also demands about $5,000 more from its new owner than a base Fiesta. Furthermore, the small sedan/hatchback family is available with a mileage-leading 1.0L EcoBoost engine that boasts up to 41 mpg, numbers the EcoSport could only dream of.
So, in the absence of efficient, inexpensive sedans, is Ford planning a crossover resurgence of sorts? It’s certainly possible. Using modern technologies, the company could extract 35 or 40 mpg from the next-generation Escape, and a redesigned EcoSport should hopefully improve on those numbers further. And the next-generation Ford Explorer (which will share a rear-drive platform with the upcoming Lincoln Aviator) should offer better performance and efficiency than ever.
If the company doesn’t invest in efficient, cost-effective crossovers, its plan to slash lower-profit passenger cars could backfire. Customers today are buying up trucks and utility vehicles in droves, but that could change if gas prices rise from their current levels. For example, when gas prices hit their peak in 2012, car shoppers flocked to compact and midsize sedans and hatches—which is part of the reason Ford began importing the Fiesta in the first place.
Speaking to the Detroit News, Farley promised the company’s strategy to cater to a variety of customers wasn’t going away. “Our ambition is to grow and hit all the price points,” Farley said. “The only thing that’s changing is how they’re going to look.”
Source: Detroit News