Ford today announced it will phase out most cars it sells in North America. According to its latest financial release, the auto giant "will transition to two vehicles" -- the Mustang and an unannounced vehicle, the Focus Active, being the only traditional cars it sells in the region. Ford sees 90 percent of its North America portfolio in trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles. Citing a reduction in consumer demand and product profitability, Ford is in turn not investing in the next generation of sedans. The Taurus is no more.
The press release also talks about a new type of vehicle, though it sounds like a crossover. This so-called white space vehicle will "combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space and versatility."
Currently, Ford sells six sedans and coupes in North America: the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, C-Max, Mustang and Taurus. This lineup hits multiple segments, from the compact Fiesta to the mid-size Focus, C-Max and Fusion to the full-size Taurus. The Mustang stands alone as the lone coupe.
It's likely Lincoln's sedans will also disappear, though this was not explicitly stated in today's press release. Lincoln currently sells the mid-size MKZ and full-size Continental -- both share platforms with Ford counterparts. If Ford is phasing out development of sedan platforms, Lincoln will likely suffer, too.
This reduction in traditional cars was a long time coming. North America consumers have increasingly turned to crossovers, trucks and SUVs over sedans and small cars. A trip to any parking lot will likely produce more evidence to this movement. There are several factors involved, from more fuel-efficient and better-equipped trucks and SUVs to improved safety ratings and ride qualities of these vehicles.
Ford also today reaffirmed its commitment to bringing hybrid-electric powertrains to the F-150, Mustang, Explorer, Escape and upcoming Bronco.
This announcement comes several weeks after Ford explained in broad terms its love affair of trucks and SUVs. Ford estimates that SUVs could make up as much as half the entire U.S. industry's retail market by 2020, and that’s why it’s shifting $7 billion in investment capital from its cars business over to the SUV segment. By 2020, Ford also aims to have high-performance SUVs in market, including five with hybrid powertrains and one fully battery-electric model.
With this big hybrid push on the SUV side, Ford expects to go from second to first-place in the U.S. hybrid vehicles market by sales, surpassing current leader Toyota by 2021, thanks also to the forthcoming hybrid Mustang and F-150.
The sedan was long a staple for Ford. The Lincoln Continental defined the '60s. And then there was the Ford Galaxy, which was available in countless variations for nearly 20 years. Then in the '80s came the LTD, Crown Victoria and Taurus. Ford even went rally racing with its cars, namely the Escort and later Focus. But while all these nameplates rose and fell, there was another always present: The Mustang.
Ford's little pony turned 54 in April 2018. The Mustang has been in production since 1964 and seems ready for yet another generation of drivers. The car has been reinvented several times and will likely be reinvented several more before its nameplate is retired. For now, though, the Mustang is here to stay.