Carmakers reducing options, saving money

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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