During its annual shareholders meeting on Thursday, Ford Motor Company executives faced questions relating to its contentious recent decision to phase out the Fiesta, Fusion, and Taurus cars in North America, and to pare down its Focus range to just a single model: the crossover-inspired Focus Active. The automaker disagrees with how the decision has been characterized by the media, with President and CEO Jim Hackett saying that Ford is “reinventing the American car” – not turning tail due to faltering sales.
“I wish the coverage had been a little different,” said Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “The headlines look like Ford’s retreating. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
“We don’t want anyone to think we’re leaving anything. We’re just moving to a modern version,” said Hackett, echoing what the automaker said in its Q1 earnings report about exploring “new ‘white space’ vehicle silhouettes” like the Focus and Fiesta Active models. “This is an exciting new generation of vehicles coming from Ford.”
In March, Ford announced that roughly 90 percent of its North American product portfolio would consist of trucks, crossovers, and SUVs by 2020. Many of its existing models – including the Escape, Edge, and Explorer – will be either partially or completely redesigned, while two new off-road SUVs – the Bronco and a smaller, unnamed model – will be introduced, allowing Ford to boast that it will have “the freshest lineup in the industry” by the same year.
Many analysts and journalists feel that Ford might be shooting itself in the foot with its decision to phase out the vast majority of its traditional cars in North America, as car segments remain popular with entry-level buyers even as crossovers and SUVs represent an ever-increasing share of total US auto sales.
“This [decision] doesn’t mean we intend to lose those customers,” Hackett said. “We want to give them what they’re telling us they really want. We’re simply reinventing the American car.”
Ford executives also faced questions during the call about the future of the Lincoln Motor Company luxury division – and specifically, whether traditional sedans will still be a part of its product lineup. Hackett’s response wasn’t particularly illuminating; he acknowledged the uncertainty, but said only that the full-size Lincoln Continental sedan will live out the rest of its planned product life cycle. There’s been no word on a replacement.
(Source: Automotive News)