• Feb 18, 2008
Part of Ford's revised business strategy is to make it easier for both dealers and consumers to get a hold of the vehicles they want. As such, Ford is implementing a plan that will reduce the number of options on its models so buyers aren't overwhelmed with choices and dealerships can stock up on the most popular models packing the most sought after equipment.
The plan is make more of the optional equipment standard and Ford is looking into what buyers want so it can outfit the vehicles accordingly. Aside from giving customers the options they desire, it means that dealers won't have stale product collecting dust on the lot. Mark Fields cited one of the most egregious offenders, the Lincoln LS (discontinued in '06), as being available in some 50,000 different configurations -- unfortunately, none of which involved a manual and a V8.

The move seemed to get a fair amount of support from dealers when it was announced at the NADA conference and Ford hopes to keep pace with other automakers that have been doing this for decades. The simplified options list will make its debut later this year on Ford's 2009 models sold in the U.S.

[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req.]


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  • 24 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      My dad works for a John Deere dealership that orders work trucks from Chevy customized, very basic, V6, no AC, auto, standard cab, long bed, rubber floor, vinyl bench, (none of these things truly custom... but here comes) and then they found out if they ordered 10 or more at a time Chevy would run a custom paint color for them in (nearly) John Deere Green. So he gets a factory paint job in the color he wants with the full factory warranty on it. I assume this kind of policy industry wide would be the death of that kind of thing.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's April 1st already? Seriously, 50,000 variations of the Lincoln LS? I really doubt that number. Look at the websites of Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln and run through the "build it" section of any car....at most, 10 to 12 exterior color options, a choice of 1 or maybe 2 colors of interior, and USUALLY, no transmission or even engine option, and already "packages" that when you select one REQUIRE you to TAKE another (for instance, buying leather seats). As a previous poster noted, a better regional distribution network would go a long way to mitigating the effects of having a high inventory at those dealerships that try to carry everything. I find it incredible, that in the '60s when FEWER and LESS powerful computers were the norm, we had MORE option choices.

      BTW, an earlier version of this story, reported here at AutoBlog.com had the new CEO of Ford amazed to find out just how many different variations there were to the Econoline. I "smell" a trend by the higher ups at Ford trying to rationalize the further resrtiction of choice in a new car. This kind of crap is why I find it hard to chose Ford...when they want to throw away the big advantage they have over the Asian carmakers: the ability to build THE EXACT CAR the customer wants.
      • 6 Years Ago
      You'll need the sat nav to find your way down to the local Toyota dealership the day you realize what a heap of crap Fords are..
      • 6 Years Ago
      Bah, years ago you used to have five engine choices, six interior choices, three transmission choices, and tons of other options. You could make a vehicle just how you wanted it. Nowadays you have a choice of a V6 or V8 and grey or black interior.

      Personally, I wish we had more even choices. Lke it used to be.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I also want to order exactly what I want, especially when I'm planning to drive the car for so many years. Why get a sandwich from Subway with the "standard" ingredients, when the flavour is so much different when you apply your own choices? Same goes with cars, I want a few items like an upgraded radio, but don't want to pay for the sunroof that's only available in some sounds & sunshine package.

      Bottom line, I want my options, and I want to know how Europe is handling it. Go to your Borders/B&N book store and pick-up any issue of UK car magazine, like CAR or TOP GEAR, and you'll find huge amount of engine, transmission, trim packages they have.

      Here, Ford will give you ANY color you like, as long as it is black.

      Please give me options, and leave the packages for people who want to conform with the rest of the world.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Does this mean I can get a Small engine in the Top End Model, or will they still be FORCING me to take the Biggest Engine if I want an upgraded interior?

        • 6 Years Ago
        Uhhh...you can get the top end trim in the Fusion that is equipped with the four cylinder....same stuff as the V-6 version.

        Same goes for the Mustang V-6, Explorer V-6, Sport Trac V-6 but not sure what else.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Maybe it still makes sense to offer more combinations in the truck area - I don't know the breakdown of those buyers between average Joe's like me and commercial users, but I would think the bulk of truck buyers are more commercial and they probably need more of the choices.

      But for the average consumer - come on. I am curious as to how many of them actually go into a dealership to build their own? I am spent time at the computer drooling over building my own car on the internet, only to go into the dealership and taking the one that is in my color. I actually like the simplicity of the Honda method - everything is dealer installed.
        • 6 Years Ago
        JK,

        I special ordered a Lexus RX330 for my wife back in 2005. I had to because there wasn't any fully loaded light blue RX330's out yet. With that said, one option I wanted was the dark grey interior, because a light tan interior shows more dirt. Well, Lexus informed me that I could not order the dark grey interior with the light blue exterior paint. Almost $50,000 for this little SUV and only one interior color choice allowed? You have to be kidding me.

        If it wasn't for my wife absolutely wanting the RX330, I would have promptly taken my money over to Mercedes or BMW. One interior choice is just B.S. in my opinion, especially on a luxury vehicle.

        By the way, when I ordered two new E350 work vans back in 2000 the Ford dealer didn't have any work vans on the lot with a full headliner. I wanted the full headliner, as it makes for a quieter ride. The Ford dealer said no problem, and I had my vans custom built, from Ford, with two seats, the 7.3L diesel, posi-rear, and full-headliner.

        So that's three custom orders right there. Personally, I love being able to order exactly what I want and for the amount of money a new car cost now, I feel I should be able to.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Paul - your second example illustrates my point about commercial users needing to order more customized options. There is such a wide array of needs in a truck (or in your case a van), that there has to be some level of customization.

        I agree that if I am spending today's prices on a car, I would want to be able to build it to my specifications. In the end though, my American consumerism brain takes over and I say "I want it now." Car manufacturers are not set up like Dell where you can build to order your product. They are more efficient when they can churn and burn the same product every day. Bad for consumers - yes. But when a company like Ford is bleeding money, they need to find ways to become more efficient and this is one of them.

        Of course they also need good product too.
      • 6 Years Ago
      About 35 years ago, Buick looked at the sales figures and made automatic transmissions standard, then A/C. This isn't news, except from Ford, which knows all about it from their various divisions, where it's old hat.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why is Ford doing this? It's completely unnecessary, and they have more important things to worry about. With all the money people spend on their vehicles, it's an inconsiderate and misguided idea to limit the number of available options or equipment packages. Are they taking a cue from Honda, or is this some sort of money-saving technique?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Odd.. What Ford identified as a weakness in their product line, others (MINI) view it as a strength. The problem isn't the options, the problem is that dealers have more cars on the lot that then they can sell. Having rows and rows of cars might look great for commercials, and people driving by, but it's inventory. And if inventory > demand, then you're sunk.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If they could do that to pickup trucks, sheesh the number of combinations is maddening.

      Still it really needs to be done with cars. Honda already does this, the DX,LX,EX at the end denotes which features are in the car with usually only Navigation and some dealer installed crap remaining to be chosen if at all.

      They should be able to save a good deal of money as well by consolidating what they offer. The key to all of this is keeping Navigation out of a standard packages as all makes overcharge for this feature
      • 6 Years Ago
      The only real complaint I ever hear from consumers is that the manufacturer packages one desireable option with a bunch of unwanted, highly overpriced junk options, making you buy it all. This is just making that problem worse. The solution isn't more packages, it's more dealer installed options.

      Want one of the four different audio packages? Dealer installed option.

      Want leather? Dealer installed.

      Alloy wheels? Dealer installed.

      Really just about anything can and should be configured at the final point of distribution, not the beginning. If they're really wanting to optimize it for the customer instead of simply finding ways to force additional equipment out the door, this is the model they'll use. Either that or go back to custom ordering.

      Fords plan is simply limiting choice which is never in the customers best interest.
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