• Mar 31st 2008 at 6:35PM
  • 24
If you're in the market for a Focus sedan, the question is, exactly what kind of Focus will you buy? According to Ford's option sheets, there are 100,000 different combinations you can create. Eighty percent of Focus sedan sales, however, are comprises of just 4,000 of those combos. This glut of choice has increasingly become an issue that translates into lost money, unhappy customers and overwhelmed dealers for the Big Three, and now they're going to trim the options tree.

Ford's new marketing chief Jim Farley has said, "Coming from Toyota, I can tell you that the opportunity is there to reduce the complexity of our line-up." Toyota cars are not known for an obscene wealth of choice, although Nissan has found itself with too many choices on the Maxima and Altima, and has cut them down recently. Meanwhile, the domestics are working to figure out how to rationalize the choices they offer -- and the money they spend on them -- with the need to give people want they want.

Ford is doing it by shrinking the number of "buildable combinations of the 2008 Focus by 99 percent." Chrysler has reduced its own complexity by a claimed 93-percent over the last two years by jettisoning options. And GM's global platform strategy aims to severely curtail the expense of developing and building a car. Said marketer John Tulloch, the manufacturers can win this fight "if the savings are used to improve remaining models and reduce sticker prices." We can only hope.

[Source: Yahoo]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      In other words, if I want option "a", I'll be forced to buy options "b", "c" and "d" whether or not I want them. Wonderful.....

      Just like the Peugeot I had years ago that, if I had wanted power windows (power door locks were standard), I had to also get cruise control, a sunroof, alloy rims and a whole bunch of other stuff I did not want...)

        • 7 Years Ago
        Didn't Ford already announce they were reducing the number of option in order to help their customers? Yeeaaahhhhh, we're doing it all for you, yeeaaahhhhh...
        • 7 Years Ago
        That's exactly correct.
        Wait for the automakers to tell us it's going to best for everyone.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Nice to be able to order the exact car you want, but sometimes it's better to yield to simplicity and move up.

      When I bought my '04 Accord EX-L (4 cylinder) in August, '03, I chose that top-of-the-line model because it was the only Accord sedan I could get with side curtain airbags at that time (curtains were made standard in '05, I think).

      I wouldn't have purchased leather interior, sunroof, alloy wheels, XM radio, 8-way power driver's seat, and other stuff that I had to take with the EX-L just to get those side curtains that I insisted on having.

      After driving the new car, I was glad I went upscale because the added stuff makes for a better and more luxurious car. Even the alloy wheels are useful to the extent that it's easier to check the tire pressure when tire valves are fully exposed instead of buried in holes in plastic wheel covers.

      Of course, I spent more money than I otherwise would have, but I'm driving a car closer to "near-luxury" than a standard sedan and it feels better;-).
      • 7 Years Ago
      I hate having to buy large option packages. I want a bare-bones car. I don't care about a stereo, because an aftermarket unit will be put in. Same with the wheels and tires. Heck, even the suspension will probably be upgraded. Electronic locks and windows would be nice. Same with air conditioning, but I don't want heated seats, electronic nannies, 2 dozen warning lights, "premium" anything, fancy embroidery, spoilers, mood lighting, sat nav, or any other of the dozens of costly and weighty options that detract from the essence of what an automobile should be. Just give me a couple displacement options, one with forced-induction, and a diesel option. And please, don't force me to use an automatic transmission.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Did you know you can't even buy a basic Chevy Silverado without an automatic tranny anymore? That's just wrong on so many levels.... I hate automatics and will not buy one in a new vehicle, period. Used? Yeah, I've bought automatics before, grudgingly, if the rest of the vehicle was "right".
      • 7 Years Ago
      LOL..I like the Model T reference.

      Chrysler seems to do it right in most cases (in the trucks anyways)
      The options are usually bundled in logical packages, with things like moonroofs, leather, and major stereo upgrades (MyGig, Nav or in dash 6 discs) being totally separate.

      If you opt for the Laramie...there are no options...LOL.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I like it when automakers do this because I look for used cars with very specific features, like the sport handling package. It's easy to find what you want when it came standard with a trim level, since sellers know about that and it's usually written on the car (or otherwise obvious).

      It's a lot harder when it's an "obscure" option that the seller probably has no idea about, and may not be visible on the outside of the car. So I vote for fewer options.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Depending on the approach, this packaging could be totally the wrong direction. A few years ago, I wanted to simply buy a V6 Honda Accord with a cloth interior and a moonroof. Not possible. To get the moonroof, you had to get the leather package. Here in the Texas heat, I don't want leather under any circumstance. Unfortunately, most manufacturers force leather on you even if you simply want a stereo upgrade. Now even bottom of the rung Kia does that with the Optima.

      Nissan is a big loser in this area also. Want an Altima 2.5S with XM radio? That option costs $5,000 extra!!! XM radio can only be had with optional packages that include leather. Is this supposedly one of the cost saving measures by limiting options? The fact is, Nissan would be losing money on my transaction because I wouldn't purchase the options that force leather on me. I refuse to have leather or pay exhorbitantly for a few of what should be lower cost options.

      The BMW Mini and the Volvo C30 have it correct. Give me a menu of options and let me pick and choose. After all, this is one of the larger expenses in life, so just give me what I want.

      Anyway, the options I want should be dealer installed anyway. Items like stereo upgrades, universal garage door openers, even trip computers should all be designed with dealer installation as an option.

      Manufacturers should also give more options in the engine/suspension department. Just because I want a V6 doesn't mean that I want your rock hard "sport handling package".

      And quit assuming what I want in a car or what I consider to be luxury. Leather and wood grain are two of the most uncomfortable and gaudy features in cars today (in my opinion). So why is it the more I spend for a vehicle, the fewer interior choices I have? In Lexus, Mercedes, Acura, BMW, etc I am forced to take leather and wood grain, even when there are more attractive and more comfortable materials available (alcantara, microsuede, stainless steel, etc.).

      Give me choices!!!!

      • 7 Years Ago
      In Europe dealers keep very little stock and most order their car exactly like they want it. The increased cost is not in the manufacture but in the carry expense of having strangely equipped cars in inventory ordered by reneging customers or deranged dealers. I can understand limiting choices for dealer stock but for a "sold" order why doesn't Ford grasp a competitive edge by allowing a custom Focus? When you want to differentiate your product why not seize on your manufacturing flexibility? This approach probably has the least impact on inexpensive cars but could have a big impact on the luxury models. The luxury imports would have trouble responding the the cache of a custom Cadillac (Lincoln doesn't still make cars does it?).
      • 7 Years Ago
      With Acura, they just make you pay for all of this garbage you don't need or want (RDX for example, to get ELS audio, you need to pay for some worthless navi with another piece of crap backup cam)

      You HAVE to have a sunroof, etc.
      And they get PRAISED for doing that, "omg look at all of this stuff, standard!"

      It's the worst thing in my eyes, they could lower the entry point of their vehicles if they made more options, or even option packages.

      Just group them together, like sun and sound, navi as a standalone, etc.
      • 7 Years Ago
      10,000 option combinations on a Focus and I still can't buy a new one with a turbo, all-wheel-drive, and/or a performance suspension?

      C'mon, Ford.

      (And yes, this is the weekly "bash Ford 'cause they don't bring their Euro cars over here" post.)

      • 7 Years Ago
      Honda, Mazda, Toyota and VW are pretty good at limiting option lists. They pretty much option by trim level and throw things in when you move up the pricing structure and leaving bigger ticket items like NAV or super luxury packages as optional. It totally makes sense from a model combination standpoint.

      It is always confusing when the option list is 2 pages long and some packages are available or not available depending on area or what options you've already chosen. Very complicated.
        • 7 Years Ago
        It really is not that complex- you check the boxes for the stuff you want; don't check the boxes for stuff you don't want- then you check to see if it's all compatible. A 12 year old can figure it all out.
      • 7 Years Ago
      In 1914: You can buy a Model T Ford in any color you want, so long as it's black.

      In 2008: "You can have any options you want on your Ford, so long as it's all of them."

      Nice to see Ford going back to it's roots.

      Personally, it would be nice to think we've made some progress in 94 years. I like having choices, as I seem to like weird combonations in my vehicles. I prefer cloth over leather, I like crank windows, and I prefer manual transmissions.....but, I also like having a powerful engine, a sunroof, the high end wheel and tire combo, and the best stereo option. That's why I always liked trucks and suvs, because I could order them exactly how I wanted. Now I can't even get a manual transmission in a new Chevy dumptruck, yet I have to pay $10,000 more for a truck with the exact same options I had ten years ago.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Nissan has become one of the more offensive option packagers lately. On the Altima, you have to pony up $3,850 for leather, automatic climate controls, a sunroof, heated power seats, and some other crap just to get a stereo that can freakin play MP3s.

      Honda's always had it closest to right: DX, LX, EX, period. One exception: most of us EX shoppers don't much care for $1,000 of the sum paying for a headroom-robbing sunroof most of us will never open. Sunroofs should ALWAYS be optional.
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