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As recent financial results have shown, reviving Ford Motor's North American operations is about more than just downsizing production capacity and increasing efficiency. Disappointing sales results are focusing the spotlight increasingly on Ford's promises of new, innovative products.

Ford is in a deep hole, with its minivans out of favor with consumers, only its aging Focus to combat the small car onslaught from other manufacturers, and even its stalwart F-150 pickup under fire from newer competitors.

Ford's problems with B-segment small cars highlight the automaker's challenges. Ford Americas president Mark Fields promised an aggressive attack on the booming small car market segment as recently as his keynote address at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show in January, but Automotive News reported Monday that Ford's current product plans show that new B-segment cars will not debut until the 2010 and 2011 model years. Among other things, Ford is struggling with defining the target markets for its small cars, with options ranging from low-priced, entry-level models to more upscale competitors for BMW's MINI. Or... Ford could simply rebadge a B-segment import, as Chevy did with its Aveo, in which case a 2007-2008 launch is possible.

[Source: Automotive News - sub required] Meanwhile the Focus lives on, with a restyling planned for the 2008 model year and an all-new model planned for early in the next decade, based on the next-generation European model (rather than the current Euro-spec version, deemed too expensive for the North American market).

With competition looming from Dodge and Chevy, the Mustang will keep its current look until the 2010 model year, when we can expect a restyled version. Bigger engines are planned though, with 6.2-liter and 5.8-liter powerplants rumored to be coming out of Ford's "Hurricane" engine program. Automotive News suggests that Ford may revive the legendary Boss badge for the big-engine models. More nebulous are a Mercury version of the Mustang and a Lincoln coupe based on the pony car platform, both just at the design concept stage.

The bottom line: With product challenges across the board, even the most aggressive new product development program seems likely to find Ford lagging the competition in some market segments, which probably means we can expect further erosion of Ford's market share in North America.

[Source: Automotive News]


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  • 35 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      I had a good laugh in seeing finally the engine may see the light since it was plagued with engineering problems. However a bit late in the picture when GM and Chrysler are already working on returning two more bigger engines for the SS or SRT versions.

      Keep up the great work Ford and show them that there is another moniker at there beside the mythical Japanese performance....LOL
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well, salvation can be had...go import the Ford Ka(butt ugly though).:p
      • 8 Years Ago
      "help keep american car companys going and keep our fellow americans employed!"
      Darrin -
      As worthy a proposition as it may seem, your plan to "help keep american car companys going and keep our fellow americans employed!" is in essence counter intuitive. In the their struggle to deal with costs, the only choice left for the Big Three is to outsource their operations to Mexico and China, where UAW’s evil minions cannot reach them, and where labor costs are actually reasonable. Perhaps you should rephrase your statement to the following:
      "Help keep Japanese car companies going by keep our fellow Americans employed!"

      In other news, even as a Ford fan, I have to concede that Ford is really shooting itself in the knee. On the Bright Side, the next couple years are going to see the launches of Lincoln's range of vehicles. In particular, 2006-2007 will see the debut of MKX, Lincoln’s Aviator replacement based on the Fusion (CD3) Platform; the MKZ, Lincoln’s Zephyr replacement (also using the Fusion CD3 platform); The Navigator, using Lincoln’s U platform (sourced from the Expedition); and the Lincoln MKS, its LS replacement based on the S80’s D3 Platform. All of these vehicles seem reasonably decent, and are based on competitive platforms, so should do well. I can’t say I like the toothy grills on the sedans and the egg-crates on the SUVs, but I must concede that they certainly are Lincoln unique.

      On the other hand, save the Fusion, F-150 and Mustang, the Blue Oval is essentially uncompetitive. Note however, that as tantalizing as the prospects of a Euro-Focus may seem, the platform is clearly too expensive for Ford USA. Nonetheless, Ford needs Subcompact (Focus), Full Size (Five Hundred) and Minivan (Freestar) replacements. Its SUV lineup (Freestyle, Escape, Explorer, Expedition) are all reasonably competitive, but gas is going to hit them hard.

      Perhaps Ford should punch holes in the floor boards of the 500 and launch it as a Flinstones Special Edition. That way, Ford can add to is already expansive set of Special Editions, claim infinite fuel economy, and improve the car's 0-60. Not to mention the advantages to the buyer, who can now develop the Schwarzenegger's calves.

      Luckily for Ford, its investments European investments are actually doing decent. Volvo, Aston Martin and Range Rover are all releasing quality vehicles. Maybe Ford has something to learn from them?

      As a fellow autoblogger wrote a few weeks back, “Sadly, Ford’s only Bold Move seems to be jumping off a cliff.”
      • 8 Years Ago
      #11
      The US automotive manufacturing industry is booming. Only Ford and GM are stumbling - for a number of reasons, but basically because they are poorly run. Toyota has 38,000 US employees and 400,000 more at US suppliers. Why not buy a Toyota made by US workers and support a company that responds to customer needs?
      • 8 Years Ago
      #13, i'm one of those patriotic dicks as you would say. 56 years old and between my wife and three grown children, we have had a total of around sixty cars. all but one from the big 2.5, and not because they were bad cars, but because we are AMERICAN car enthusiats, and they have been far better than anything the falling sun has to offer. i'll put my sts up against anything from lexus, (rebadged toyota's) infinity, (rebadged nissan) or whatever. if you are paying attention, toyota is now the recall king, surpassing gm by a long shot. nissan is in the bottom of the quality list as is subaru, izuzu, mazda, and mitsubishi. even lexus now has several recalls. i'm not putting them down by any means, but it seems to me, the faster toyota wants to be number one, the more mistakes they make. the one toyota we owned was an 06 tundra, very uncomfortable on extended trips, too much road noise, and could'nt handle my boat even though the truck was rated to pull it. got rid of it when it overheated.

      i have been loyal to the 2.5 only because they have been good cars, and trouble free except for one used mercury which was a junk from the gitgo. i will continue to be a patriotic dick because i have faith in the 2.5, and i have no faith in this invasion of asian crap. listen to the news, gm and dc are on the rebound. ford will soon find it's way and when the 2.5 make it, i will be the first to rejoice.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ford has better cars overseas than in the U.S. The company isn't much of a car maker here because its only serious, volume vehicles are trucks and SUVs which are currently slow sellers.

      The only modern sedan in Ford's showrooms is the Fusion/Milan/Zephyr which is a Mazda 6 in drag. Better to just buy the Mazda or, better yet, buy an Accord or Camry which are better cars than the Mazda 6 anyway.

      The biggest car news from Ford is that it's renaming the Lincoln Zephyr the MKZ. Gee, that's just great, isn't it? Dropping a good name for a stupid and forgettable letter combo. How original!

      Ford is a mess.
      • 8 Years Ago
      yedkar,

      how many people do you know, that outside of fuel economy, would choose a small car?

      I drive about 150,000 miles per year, and a small car will never be on my list of "must haves." I have four cars that I drive most; 1990 Buick Reatta, (202,000 miles, 3800 V-6, average MPG: 30-32, weight: 3240 lbs.), a 2000 Buick Park Avenue (246,000 miles, 3800 V-6, MPG:30-32, weight, 3740 lbs.) a 2001 Cadillac deVille: 176,000 miles, Northstar V-8, 28.2 MPG, weight, 3770 lbs.), and a 2006 Dodge 1500 2WD Hemi pickup (multi displacement system, 12,000 miles, 19-21 MPG, weight, 4820 lbs.)

      every one of these vehicles can cover thousands of miles at a crack, are supremely comfortable, and have had no problems whatsoever.

      as far as the safetly issue goes, it doesn't take too much memory of high school science class to remember about inertia, and the result of something heavy hitting something light.

      everyone seems to be lulled into believing the stupid results of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety . they're great if you plan on crashing your car a certain rate of speed into a fixed object; unfortunately, this has nothing in common with the real world.

      most folks have a tendency to put on their brakes when they are going to hit another vehicle; this completely changes the results of a crash, and not even taken into consideration by the Insurance Institute.

      same results for hitting something head-on: a 2 inch difference in the impact point will result in a totally different outcome.

      the really unfortunate thing here is the automakers (all of them) are now building 'tanks' to pass this stupid test. unfortunately, any differences from this standardized test will have totally different (and possibly catastrophic) results.

      my life is worth a little more than 5 miles per gallon.

      Mike
      • 8 Years Ago
      back at #21
      Seeing as how many cars you buy, you don't let them get older than their warranty. So nothing should be going wrong with the car.
      Toyota's recalls are tiny little problems that most ppl wouldn't even bother fixing. It has been proven over and over again that toyota's are bullit proof.
      If you think that Lexes's are rebadjed toyotas you are so wrong. They are basicly their own product line. And a LS will whoop a DTS's ass any day.
      It has the best appointed interior, most comfy seats, not to mention the best engine.
      but i still believe this is how the auto market goes-
      Japenese rule - passanger cars and light SUV's
      Europeans rule - luxury
      Americans rule - honking huge SUV's and Trucks
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ford's biggest trouble is that only now they are bringing over the global platforms .... the Focus, the B-segment are all out of schedule with the market, because FoMoCo is ready to redesign both, and they both will be introduced in about 2008-2009 globally, but that is too late for Ford NA, which has nothing on the market..

      However Ford is not flatfooted in the MPG game .. look at Focus 27 city 37 hwy mileage ... that is more than GM's Aveo and of course the Focus is a better car. I would love to have a real Focus offering in the US, but Ford is not completely clueless, and it is likely next year, the Focus will add another 3mpg under their collar, meeting the 40mpg mark .... that is not bad for a ful lcompact with a good engine and good chasis ...


      But I agree th Autonew article is a little depressing ... Ford simply had a pipeline full for Crap, and Fields decided that he will rather face product draught, than defend mediocre and subpar models.

      Igor
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ryan, the European Focus on which the Mazda 3 and Volvo S40 are built is too expensive to sell as an entry-level Focus in the U.S.

      Compact cars are more upscale there than they are here and cost more. We'll continue to get the old Focus with updates to make the car fresher, but our Focus must remain relatively cheap.

      Fordophiles begging for the Euro Focus should calm down and just buy a Mazda 3 which is likely to be better than an all-new Focus would be even if it were offered here.

      Small Mazdas have long been trouble-free while the American Focus was a mess for its first few years.

      In my view, the Mazda name is better than Ford anyway even though Ford controls Mazda. There's too much Ford in the Mazda 6 to suit me, but the Mazda 3 seems to be a purer Mazda. The Volvo S40 is a good car, but the Mazda 3 is a better car for the money IMO.

      Ford-branded cars are a huge disappointment in the U.S. but their Mazda and Volvo affiliates haven't been ruined by Ford--at least not yet;-).
      • 8 Years Ago
      @2

      Most likely because they arent UAW vehicles.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Give me this and see what I can do with it.
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