Ford has announced that they will create a new “affordable” nameplate in a couple of years. It seems that many owners of Ford’s passenger cars are unhappy that they have dropped the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Taurus plates from their home market. The only real car that they now sell in the US is the Mustang with other Cross-Over Utility (CUV) and Sports Utility (SUV) ranges.
Ford has realised – a little late – that many people don’t want a CUV/SUV, they just want a decent sized, reliable, four door vehicle which is something that the Koreans, Japanese and now Chinese manufacturers can do. What we find fascinating is that there are still Ford models with the configuration that US buyers want, only sold in other countries, some quite close such as Mexico. Surely they don’t need to think up a new nameplate for a whole new product, when they are building them in Europe and China.
Another fascination is that Ford would not say what the vehicle would be and only said that they had come up with a concept in 12 weeks however wouldn’t be drawn on what the configuration was! Giving it a little thought, the vehicle could well be based on a VW design, considering that Ford are now using their MQB platform. The whole idea of this platform is to create vehicles through common components such that a designer could mix and match to get the right power unit, transmission and floorpan. All that is needed is to wrap a skin around it to give it a marque specific look.
The other option is a pure badge-engineered vehicle from a Chinese manufacturer. It is unlikely that any new sedan will be built in the US considering the amount of layoffs being proposed. What is frustrating for the market is that Ford developed a “world” car – the Focus, and built it in many factories covering most continents. It is still a good car and could easily beat anything from GM, FCA or the Far East. Ford just need to market it properly, which is something that they have failed to do in several markets over the years.
To us, it looks like Ford misjudged the market for sedans in the US and assumed that everyone wanted a boxy utility style vehicle of differing sizes, however, what many people want is quite simple: a mid-sized four door family vehicle that has plenty of room, is economical and cheap to run. If the Big Three can’t supply this type of vehicle, then they might as well pack up and leave that market segment to Asia – with or without tariffs.