Confirming what has long been suspected, Ford today announced in its quarterly financial report that it will not invest in a next generation of sedans for North America.
"Over the next few years, the Ford car portfolio in North America will transition to two vehicles — the best-selling Mustang and the all-new Focus Active crossover coming out next year," the statement reads. "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."
By 2020, Ford says 90 percent of its portfolio in North America will be trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles. This move is due to consumer demand and product profitability.
The company also announced that it is committed to developing "new propulsion choices," indicating it would add hybrid powertrains to the F-150, Mustang, Explorer, Escape and upcoming Bronco. It also announced it will produce an EV starting in 2020 that will be a "performance utility," and that there will be 16 battery-electric vehicles by 2022.
Now, let's delve into this a bit. First, it's important to note that these announcements concern North America. The recently redesigned Fiesta and Focus will still be sold in other markets (after all, the Focus Active is just a Crosstrek-ified Focus), and sedans like the Fusion continue to have appeal elsewhere. We also wouldn't be shocked if one of those "white space" vehicles with higher ride height, space and versatility turned into a Outback-ified Mondeo Estate.
Another point is that "few years" could mean anything, and that without a firm timetable, the exact discontinuation of each car can be determined at a later date. Given the age of each, though, none seem long for this world. The Fiesta and Focus have been replaced in other markets by next-generation models and therefore are likely to meet their makers first. The Ford Taurus is a million years old, and no one buys full-size sedans, so it's got seconds to live. The Fusion has held up well, but dates back to 2013, putting it in its sixth year (typically the point of a generational change even if Ford tends to drag things on longer than most). The C-Max would be the only other car model, and we don't know anyone who would miss it. The Focus ST and Focus RS ... ah, you'd better move to Europe.
One would imagine the announcement reinforcing Ford's commitment to electrification would be aimed to answer the inevitable questions about the danger of rising gas prices and a product lineup devoted almost entirely of trucks. Certainly, Ford's reliance on trucks and lack of car development in the late 1990s and early 2000s left it ill-prepared for the skyrocketing gas prices and focus on fuel economy that would come later in the decade. The promise of EVs seems meant to assuage the fears of investors and the wagging fingers of the environmentally conscience.
Look for more updates on Ford's grand car cull as questions are asked and further details are discovered.
- Ford confirms the only cars it will sell are Mustang, Focus Active originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 25 Apr 2018 17:35:00 EDT.