Ford gives sedans chop in US
FORD Australia plans to continue with its passenger sedan and hatchback line-up, despite an announcement last week by its parent company that it plans to drop such vehicles from the North American range in the next few years.
In the United States, the only passenger models to be retained will be the Mustang and a crossover version of the all-new Focus, called Active, due next year.
This means cars such as the Taurus large sedan – once America’s topselling car – plus the mid-sized Fusion, Fiesta light hatchback and most of the Focus small-car range will be given the chop, along with some slowselling models from Ford’s premium Lincoln range.
Because Ford North America is planning to import the Focus Active from China, the Mustang will be the only passenger car made in the home of Ford, with all other plants in the US, Canada and Mexico turning out SUVS, trucks and vans.
In Australia, Ford is also planning to put most of its marketing effort into popular vehicles such as the Ranger ute, SUVS – Everest, Escape, Ecosport and upcoming Endura – plus the Mustang sportscar and Transit commercial van.
Ford Australia plans to import the next-generation Focus from Europe starting late this year, along with one sporty ST variant of the latest-generation Fiesta. It also plans to continue with the mid-sized Mondeo from Europe for the foreseeable future.
Because Mondeo is closely related to the American Fusion, which is about to be axed, it remains to be seen if the business case for a nextgeneration Mondeo can be made in a world mad about SUVS.
Mondeo sales in Australia are down 35.8 percent so far this year, to 543 units, making it the sixth best-selling Ford vehicle behind the Ranger, Mustang, Focus, Everest and Escape.
Ford president and chief executive Jim Hackett said his company was committed to taking appropriate ac- tions to drive profitable growth and maximise the returns of the business over the long term.
“Where we can raise the returns of underperforming parts of our business by making them more fit, we will,” he said.
“If appropriate returns are not on the horizon, we will shift that capital to where we can play and win.”
Ford said that by 2020, almost 90 percent of the Ford portfolio in North America would be trucks, SUVS and commercial vehicles.
“Given declining consumer demand and product profitability, the company will not invest in next generations of traditional Ford sedans for North America,” Mr Hackett said.
“Over the next few years, the Ford car portfolio in North America will transition to two vehicles – the bestselling Mustang and the all-new Focus Active crossover coming out next year.
“The company is also exploring new ‘white space’ vehicle silhouettes that combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space and versatility.”
Ford has also re-committed to electrifying its range, adding hybrid powertrains to high-volume vehicles such as the F-150 pick-up, Mustang, Explorer large SUV, Escape and Bronco.
The company’s battery electric vehicle rollout starts in 2020 with a performance utility, and it will bring 16 battery-electric vehicles to market by 2022.
The company also announced it now wanted to achieve its targeted eight percent profit margin by 2020, two years earlier than previously announced.
BLOWN FUSE: Ford’s Fusion will be one of several sedans to be discontinued in North America, throwing a question mark over the long-term viability of the closely related European-built Mondeo.