While running away can sometimes be a brave and farsighted strategy, Ford’s decision to stop selling cars in the U.S.-with the exception of only the Mustang, now that the company has even cancelled plans to import the Chinese-built Focus Active almost-crossover because of the tariff situation-has got us wondering what the company might bail on next.
The most obvious candidate is Lincoln. The brand’s sales have been down, despite the recent release of the new Navigator and the imminent arrivals of the Nautilus and the Aviator. Ford killed its Mercury brand when consumers caught on that it was little more than a source of Ford clones wearing glitzier trim and higher price tags. Today, Lincoln sells only a single model that isn’t just a gussied-up Ford, and its sales struggles stand in marked contrast to the fortunes of Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo, three brands that Ford sold on to new owners for dollar-store prices. Lincoln is also a primarily domestic brand with little global presence-a big push into China might yet save it in the manner that Buick survived GM's bankruptcy largely on the strength of its sales in Asia, but no one has proven yet that buyers overseas are any more enamored than are Americans.
What about the V-8? Ford has been associated with the octopot since the legendary 1930s flathead popularized a layout once reserved for luxury marques, but there’s less and less enthusiasm within the company for its continuation. Apart from the V-8s found in low-volume Shelby Mustangs, innovation has stalled, and the legendary five-oh has been almost entirely usurped by the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 in trucks and SUVs. It could turn out that Mustang is not just the only car that Ford continues selling in America, it could become home to the last remaining V-8 in the lineup.
Option three is the expensive World Endurance Championship racing series, which suddenly seems very far removed from the company’s core mission of maximizing SUV sales and talking gnomically about automated and electric vehicles and the transition to a "mobility company." With no major anniversaries for the original GT remaining on the horizon, now might be a prudent time for Ford to pack the racing program back into its Batcave for a few decades and delve once again into that big box of white flags.
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