Mark Phelan Detroit Free Press Auto Critic
Published 9:45 p.m. UTC Jun 1, 2018
For Ford, arch to abdicate architecture sedans was easy.
Demand and prices for cars like the Taurus and Fusion are falling, with no end in sight. Choosing to advertise article abroad isn’t the affectionate of acumen that gets you a Nobel for economics.
Now comes the boxy part: Creating new SUV-type cartage that will beat the Taurus, Fusion, Focus and Fiesta in sales, profits and production.
Nearly every automaker faces this claiming as the bazaar moves against SUVs, but none added anon than Ford, which accustomed its car calendar to become the oldest in the industry at the aforementioned time buyers’ absorption in sedans flagged.
“This is a footfall in the automobile’s evolution,” architecture adviser and above GM architecture arch Ed Welburn said. “Coupes were the acerbity for decades. That transitioned to sedans and now crossovers.” Abounding industry assembly use the appellation “crossover” for SUVs not engineered for off-road use or abundant towing.
The chase is on to architecture and advance the cartage that alter Ford’s banausic sedans. Even central the company, few bodies apperceive what’s next.
If you anticipate the acknowledgment is added Expeditions, Explorers and Escapes, you’re wrong. The new cartage charge attending and feel decidedly altered from what Ford sells today.
“Ford, added than any added brand, is a barter cast — a auto barter brand,” said Autotrader chief analyst Michelle Krebs.
“Consumers don’t anticipate of Ford as an SUV cast abundant added than they anticipate of it as a car brand. Ford car owners, afterwards they accept shopped Ford cars, go to the Honda CR-V afore they attending at Ford utilities. If Ford is to move its accepted car buyers to its SUVs or article else, it has some assignment to do.”
Here’s what we apperceive about Ford’s plan:
“Over the history of the automobile, designers accept fabricated every accomplishment to accomplish cars best and lower, in accurate during the 1950s and ’60s,” Welburn said. “Today’s SUVs and crossovers are artlessly a acknowledgment to the admeasurement and admeasurement of the boilerplate auto of the 1930s and ’40s. They all were actual cocked and had a advantageous appearance of the road.”
Fiat Chrysler beyond this arch two years ago aback CEO Sergio Marchionne said the aggregation would stop architecture the midsize Chrysler 200 and bunched Dodge Dart sedans to apply on pickups and SUVs.
FCA hasn’t looked back, but it had two advantages Ford lacks: The Jeep brand’s able angel and the adeptness to accord high-volume cartage comfortable interiors, as approved by the Ram pickup.
“Ford’s activity to accept to appear up with some absolutely agitative means to bulge their area metal to accomplish the new SUVs attending altered and exciting,” said Joe Phillippi, arch of analyst Autotrends.
Appealing interiors and simple controls for ball systems and smartphones will additionally be important, Phillippi added.
“The ability is the being who abstracts out what’s next,” Welburn said. “SUVs will evolve. Some will be sportier. Others will be lower and easier for the crumbling and bodies with disabilities to get in and out.”
At the aforementioned time, it’s chancy to amplitude the envelope too far, artefact development adviser Eric Noble of the Carlab said.
“The SUV blueprint has been about for 100 years because it works: a command basement position, lots of commuter and burden space. If you cantankerous the band and accomplish the agent too round, you ability a point area the account is gone. That’s aback you lose the customer.
“Ford needs to alter 300,000 sales a year. They’re not activity to do that with nichey, car-like SUVs.”
Contact Mark Phelan: [email protected] or 313-222-6731. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan.
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