According to the Detroit Free Press, offering fewer combinations allows automakers to cut engineering, design and marketing costs, which are frequently larger than even the manufacturing costs for a vehicle. One example is the 2010 Ford Fusion. The 2008 Fusion offered no fewer than 2,600 combinations between the different trim levels, option packages and stand-alone options. That number will be slashed to just 104 for someone shopping the 2010 model. To put that in perspective, someone looking at a 2009 Honda Accord can pick from about 20 versions. It's basically coupe or sedan, automatic or stick, LX or EX trim levels, with the EX available with leather and/or navigation, and either the four-cylinder or the 3.5L V6. That's it. Compared to a typical Chrysler, which might have had as many as 10,000 combinations in the past, the new system will keep things simple in an attempt to streamline the domestics' offerings.
[Source: The Detroit News]