Ford Motor Company is prepared to alter and possibly reduce its passenger-vehicle lineup in North America as small-car demand continues to decline and buyers switch to crossovers.
“Over time, there should be some pruning of the portfolio to support growth in other areas,” Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs told Automotive News earlier this week. “Clearly we’re going to invest in growing the SUV portfolio. We certainly intend to have a strong car base as well; we don’t know where the market’s going to go. But there will be some pruning over time as there should be in a nameplate and portfolio.”
Ford’s President of the Americas wouldn’t go into detail regarding which models might face the axe in the near future, but the discontinuation of the Ford Fiesta in North America remains a possibility; US sales of the subcompact are down 26 percent this year through November.
The US-market Ford Fiesta is currently built at the automaker’s Cuautitlán Assembly Plant in Mexico.
“If you look at our past, there’s been some nameplates that have dropped off and other nameplates have been added,” says Hinrichs. “Given where the market is going, the demands for capital investment and the regulatory changes coming at us, we’ll continue to always look at the total portfolio and see where’s segmentation going and where should we be phasing out.”
Waning demand in the small-car segment was also responsible for Ford’s decision to move all North American small-car production to Mexico. The compact Ford Focus, which is slated to move out of the Michigan Assembly Plant and into a new facility in San Luis Potosi in 2018, might not have stuck around much longer in North America were it not for the shift.
“It improved the Focus business equation and allowed us to have a next-gen Focus,” says Hinrichs. “We want it to be an important part of our car offerings in the marketplace, but it’s important to recognize where that segmentation’s been going over time and what that may mean in the future about the volumes.
“I think it would be a very challenging proposition to build the next-gen Focus in the US,” he concluded.