Ford shifts Focus
Henry Ford and his namesake company are synonymous with the car. From the Model T to the Mustang to the Explorer to the Taurus, Ford has been a towering giant, a formidable presence, casting a long shadow over rivals that have come and gone in the years since. So, it’s somewhat ironic that Ford has decided to stop selling cars altogether.
Okay, maybe not all cars and not everywhere. The US market will continue to house the Mustang in our stables. The Fusion, Focus*, Fiesta, and
Taurus are all exiting stage-left. The remainder of Ford’s US offerings will be trucks, SUVs, and crossovers.
Crossovers – a Fusion between hatchback and SUV – are to blame
The sedan is dead – long live the crossover. Actually, in the face of crossovers, everything is dead. Hatchbacks are having somewhat of a renaissance in the US, what with Toyota and Honda both bringing hatch variants of the insanely popular Corolla and Civic, but they can’t hold a candle to the burning torch that is the sales of crossovers. Even with rising gas prices, the commanding view and “go anywhere” look of a CX-5 or RAV4 entice Americans like a picnic basket entices Yogi the Bear – we can’t seem to get enough.
What else rides high and looks tough and ready to rumble? SUVs and trucks. In fact, the number one selling car in the US is the Ford 150 truck. The next two down on that list are also trucks. The fourth is a crossover. The first car on that list is in the 6th position. Hatchbacks and wagons? They’re self-control at a Vegas buffet – nowhere to be found.
Five Hundred reasons this makes sense
Ford is in the business of making money. With the rise of the Chinese car buying market, potential tariffs on products integral in the production of cars, and the ever-increasing pressure from Kia and Hyundai, Ford needs to bolster their bottom line and prepare for battle. This means shoring up production supply chain relationships, focusing strategies, and cutting costs. Not having to design, produce, and maintain lines of slow-selling sedans and focusing on best-seller SUVs, trucks, and crossovers makes business sense. Basic supply and demand rules dictate that Ford go where the people are buying. Hopefully the refocusing of the brand on core products will means more innovation, cheaper base prices, and better quality. All of these things are good for the consumers that buy these products and Ford’s bottom line.
Looking to the future – A potential reverse in treads
The other side of that coin, however, is the American buyer’s penchant for suddenly reversing positions. As gas prices rise, the popularity of smaller and more fuel efficient cars goes up. The Prius cut it’s teeth on this premise and no matter how fuel efficient crossovers and SUVs might be they’ll never have the fuel-frugal appeal of hybrids and EVs. Ford technically has this covered, as they’ll be introducing hybrid trucks and SUVs in the future, but these are untested products – and who wants to be driving an F-150 Super Duty with an EcoBoost Hybrid badge on it anyway?
Car buying trends are fickle at best. Many a car company have tried to forge identity and profits on a rising trend only to fall from great heights when tastes shift. Ford may be positioning themselves to take advantage of a rethinking of modern transport. Or Ford may find themselves in the precarious position of building a water park in a drought. Only time will tell.
* Including ST and RS models, eventually. The only Focus the US market will receive is the Focus Active, which is – you guessed it – a crossover.