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Former Ford CEO Mark Fields Discusses Auto Industry’s Forthcoming Challenges: Video

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The automotive industry is in the midst of some major changes as EVs continue to slowly take over. Now, with Tesla joining the S&P 500 and a host of upstarts attempting to replicate its success, legacy automakers like Ford are working overtime to design and produce competitive all-electric products like the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. Thus, we found this recent interview CNBC‘s Squawk Box conducted with former Ford CEO Mark Fields to be very informative.

Squawk Box was particularly interested to hear what Fields thought 2021 has in store for the automotive industry, and needless to say, his outlook is rather positive. “I think for 2021 you’re going to see an industry that’s going to be up probably in the neighborhood of about 10 to 12 percent versus this year,” Fields said.

That’s a pretty solid recovery from this year’s results thus far, which have been marred by the COVID-19 pandemic. But Fields believes a couple of factors will help it achieve those results. “As you know, retail sales have snapped back pretty well. But what has kind of dragged down the industry this year, particularly since COVID, is fleet sales – they basically turned off.”

As Mark Fields points out, however, fleet sales have begun to rebound in the last month or so, particularly for the Detroit Big Three automakers. Other reasons for optimism include low-interest rates, a strong housing and truck market, more government stimulus, and the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Plus, thanks to the pandemic, fewer people are using public transportation and ride-sharing services and might be looking to purchase vehicles instead. However, Fields does see a couple of challenges that automakers must overcome to achieve this rebound. The biggest challenge is inventory, and Fields believes that automakers will struggle to produce enough vehicles to meet demand for at least the first half of 2021.

Another challenge is getting police departments and local municipalities to buy fleet vehicles again, something that has tapered off as budgets shrink. The same principle applies to rental car companies, who have seen their businesses decimated by the pandemic. Altogether, it’s good information and a pretty accurate look into the challenges the auto industry faces as we head into the new year.

We’ll have more industry insights like this to share soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford business news and ongoing Ford news coverage.

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Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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Comments

  1. fpvfan

    Ford is having issues right now because Ford is not looking at the big picture. Ford could easily solve all of their issues with their lineup and challenges they face by doing a few very simple things.
    1.) Change the Mustang Mach E’s name to just the Mach E. Stop pissing off your fan base because honestly, we’re all you have right now. It’s great that Ford is trying to get in the electric game but this is not the way to do it. I have no problem with the Mach E’s existence but stop calling it a Mustang. It’s not. I wouldn’t even care if the Mach E developed into a family of vehicles, (Mach E crossover, Mach S sedan, Mach X SUV, etc.) and offered electric performance to rival Tesla, Porsche, Lucid, etc. Just don’t call it a Mustang.

    2.) Change all of the Super Duty Vehicles and Transit Vehicles to electric. If your worried about fleets, this would be the way to help your fleet sales. Offer reliable, dependable, long range fleet vehicles by adding electric motors to Dual Clutch units for extended range and improved performance and make all of these vehicles with standard AWD.

    3.) Get Rid of the Mustang! Ford would be so much better off letting the mustang ride of into the sunset and letting the Falcon take it’s place and bring out a Falcon family of vehicles like Ford had done in Australia and in North America back in the ’60’s. In Australia, the Falcon came in both a four door and a 2-door “ute” which was a small car based pickup. Falcon also had a Fairmont line which was something like a low-end basic version of the same car. The Falcon Ute in Australia has been used for commercial use with flatbeds and even stake bodies. Much better than what this new maverick is going to be. As far as the performance, The Falcon is better than the mustang because it already is a four door car and on the CD6 platform, it can handle AWD powertrains with the 10-speed and a V8 and in UTE form, it gives ford a 2-door performance vehicle that has way more practicality than any mustang. What would really be nice is if Ford took the 5.2L Cross plane crank V8 crate engine, bumped it to 5.4L N/A and dropped that in the Falcon and gave back the Boss 335 and then took the 5.2L Predator S/C and bumped that up to a 5.8L to give back the GT351 and Falcon Cobra. Along with a standard 5.0L 495hp GT. Also It would give the performance community another engine, the Bara 325T or an updated version of that under the ecoboost name. Have the Fairmont version as the new Police pursuit and interceptor using the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 and right there you have one family of vehicles that fills so many niches. The Falcon has so many different performance trims, (XR6, XR6-T, Typhoon, Pursuit, Boss 335 GT, Cobra, XR8, etc. Plus it has its own cult classic following from the Mad Max movies and seeing that the Bullitt Mustang is getting tired, it’s time for something else to carry that torch. Even offering a lower end Fairmont with an ST and RS variant that are still sporty but not as much as the Falcon cars would be a great idea. With this all being on the CD6 platform, it also allows for performance updates to the Explorer such as an XR6-T variant and an XR8 variant.

    4.) Get rid of the Ecosport, Escape and Edge and bring the Ford Puma over to the States with a 2.0L ST variant and a 2.3L GT Variant and a 2.5L I-5 Turbo 5-cylinder RS variant along with your standard ecoboost 4-cylinder variants. Make the performance variants RWD biased AWD system with loads of performance equipment standard. The Puma will cover the replacement of the Ecosport and Escape while the Bronco Sport covers the replacement of the Ford Edge.

    5.) Get rid of the Expedition and move the Bronco to the F150 platform and give it a 5.0L option. Bring up the Everest and let that sit in the spot the current Bronco sits in as the sister vehicle to the upgraded Ranger. Just like Jeep has the Grand Cherokee and the Wrangler unlimited with the Grand Cherokee being more street oriented and the Wrangler being the more off-road styled and off-road capable vehicle, the Explorer would be the Street SUV while the Everest fills the mid-size adventure SUV niche.

    6.) F150 is okay, needs a lightning variant though. It’s time to upgraded the 5.2L predator back to a 5.8L which would be more in line with the F150 Lightning and a top of the line engine for the Falcon

    7.) Either kill Lincoln and just bring the Vignale trim package to Ford or do something different with the Brand. the quiet luxury thing is Buick level boring. The Lincoln brand should bring back the Zephyr family to go toe-to-toe with cars from Rolls Royce but with Electric performance but being priced in the $80K-$100K range with the Continental Class vehicles under that ranging from $45K-75K and then the Navigator SUV class including the Navigator Excelsior flagship SUV with vehicles in this class ranging anywhere from $65K-$130K but really be worth it.

    This lineup fills every niche from electric, commercial, performance, economy and luxury and gives Ford a global lineup.

    Reply
  2. Roy Chile’s

    The Ford line up is just fine Lincoln on the other hand hopefully will see some of the greener pastures Mark Fields is talking about A AWD Zephyr 400hp $50k-$70k, A 5.2SC Blackwood and EV model $90k-$140k and A RWD EV Continental suicide 2 and 4 door $100-$150 flagship models

    Reply
    1. fpvfan

      Ford’s lineup sucks! Mustangs are way too small and are absolutely not useful (charger is way better and has more doors and more comfort), the current explorer is a disaster (minus the ST) and their cars have more recalls and just general quality issues than you can shake a stick at. Lincoln is absolutely boring (cadillac kicks their butt, gm quality issues be darned). Mach E should NOT be called a Mustang at all! and the Puma is way better and better looking than the Ecosport and that ugly escape. Everything Ford Australia had was BY FAR better than anything America has or has had. Ford has given us their boring traditional junk for way too long. Even the Ford Mondeo in Europe and Australia had the XR5 2.5L Turbo-5 cylinder that was nicer than just about anything we got in a Fusion. We had the 2.7L Turbo 6 for what, a year or so? The rest of the world has had every nice car that Ford has ever made and all we get is a tired mustang. I mean seriously, how long are they going to keep making Bullitt Mustangs? As much as I love the Mach 1 mustangs, how many more of these cars are we going to get? Why not change up and bring better vehicles to the lineup? Why not have cars that fit more than one criteria? Why not bring out a better performance coupe like a modern Ford Capri RS2600, the car that caused the birth of the BMW M division? Why not make the most of the CD6 platform and create several vehicles that can use the same modular platform and fill different niches of the market? You don’t see BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, or Hyundai/Kia dropping their sedans and coupes do you? Why because they build good cars. Dodge sells the hell out of the Challenger and Charger. Why? because they offer practicality with performance. FORD DOES NOT! it’s the same reason the Camaro is dying (along with the fact that it’s GM). Ford’s lineup is FAR from fine and it has not been for a long time. At least not in North America.

      Reply
  3. Roy Chile’s

    I have own 4 Mustangs 2 at the moment they are just fine. Even though I like them the Pony Car don’t need to be the size of a Dodge Challenger. When it comes to F150 and Mustang, Ford gets it right

    Reply
  4. Mark L Bedel

    I agree…I would keep the Mustang as a niche market vehicle. Ford is a large enough manufacturer that they can afford to have one “fun” vehicle in their lineup in this market. Plus, these vehicles mean as much to the manufacture as a marketing/public relations device helping leverage sales of other vehicles in their line up. I certainly wouldn’t have an issue if the power train changes to electric at some point, as long as it’s a purpose built performance vehicle.

    The F 150 and the Mustang are so woven into the fabric of the company, with each carrying such a legacy, that doing away with them, could compromise how the consumer base views the company. Nothing brings this home to me more, than when Honda this past year with their TV commercials, referred to their products as “people movers”. Doesn’t exactly instill any degree of excitement in looking over their line, when this is how they refer to their products…about as exciting as any other appliance.

    I also love my Focus ST which one would think would embody some of the characteristics mentioned above, fun, efficient, four passenger capability, utility, etc., but clearly this market has shifted it “focus” to big heavy SUV’s, most without any personality or enjoyable “driving” aspects.

    I enjoy the act of driving and occasionally even tracking my Mustang and will for the foreseeable future. If one is just concerned primarily about utility, and moving bodies around, I think a shift toward those absolutes would be dangerous. For those who care about the driving experience, and are not sold on the self driving car movement, please read, “Why We Drive”, by Matthew Crawford. His book does a great job of explaining why we have to be very careful moving toward viewing our transportation as “people movers” or “destination appliances”.

    Reply
  5. Bob Dobson

    Your right about the Mach-E being in the Mustang family, WTF is that?……Mach-E is great by don’t cloud the Mustang family with it. If you want, make a real Mustang fully electric version.

    I have a 2021 Explorer ST, it has no issues other than the ridiculous SYNC3 system that still doesn’t work properly. Really a piss off to see the 2021 Edge get SYNC4 and not the Explorer. People need to be clear when bashing the Explorer, yes the first year ealy 2020 production had issues but now they are almost non existent.

    They should have kept the Focus in North America, there still needs to a Ford competitor to the Honda Civic. I have a 2016 Focus SE and other then the notorious transmission issues that Ford has fixed and works well now, its great.

    Reply
  6. fpvfan

    I dont know guys, I think the falcon family would be a much better choice. I mean think about it, Ford is already talking about four door mustangs and awd mustangs and all kinds of other things including that Mach E so they’re already planning to destroy the legacy of the mustang anyway. I’m a long time fan of Ford’s Mustang but what Ford is planning to do is make the mustang NOT a mustang anymore. It’s why I say the Falcon is a much better choice. Even in America, the Falcon is the car the Mustang came from. It would be almost fitting for it to go full circle and this way when Ford does come out with Four door variants and everything else, its not as sacrilegious and won’t drive Mustang fans up a wall. I mean have you guys seen the Aussie Falcons? They’re beautiful and amazing and they’re just as much a performance Icon as the Mustang if not even more because they were offered in more than one continent, It was known as the Fairmont GT in South Africa but it was the same car. Like I said, you figure the Falcon came in every body style configuration there is, coupe, sedan, mini-truck and wagon (crossover). The Falcon covers way more ground than the mustang and it’s not like you can’t put the same engines from the Mustang in the Falcon. Granted I’d prefer an Ecoboost Inline-5 and Inline 6 option to go under 3 different V8 options but that’s my preference.
    Now I’ve driven the ST Explorer and I think it is the best SUV that I’ve ever been behind the wheel of. I’ve driven a 6.1L SRT Jeep and a Trailblazer SS and the Explorer is way nicer and better in every sense of the word. I would love to see a more focused RS or GT variant to take on the SRT-392 and Trackhawk. Honestly since the Falcon was also offered in a Wagon, it would be easy for Ford to make a more Durango-like SUV based on the Falcon (oh wait, they already do, the Ford Territory) and have that complete the Falcon family. As far as the Explorer goes, now that the Bronco is back and is starting it’s own family, the current Bronco (which is technically a Bronco II seeing that it’s on the Ranger platform) can take the spot from the Explorer and given it’s proper Bronco II name and a full size Bronco can replace the Expedition on the F150 platform and get back to where it belongs and now you have the Bronco family (Bronco Sport, Bronco II and Bronco, the way God intended it to be). So now you have your Falcon family and your Bronco family, you’ve gotten rid of several models and engines and have a few simple engines to work with that we know are good and don’t have problems, A 2.5L I-5 turbo, a 4.0L I-6 Turbo, a 5.0L V8, possibly the return of the 5.4L variant of the Coyote engine, and the return of the 5.8L Trinity V8 with upgrades from the current predator V8. Taking those engines and offering hybrid tech behind some of them would work great, especially the 4.0L I-6 Turbo and the 2.5L I-5 Turbo. Drop all of the engines below this and call it a day.
    As far as the Focus, the Puma would be a better choice as it would take the place of the Focus along with the Ecosport, and Escape. It is larger than the Focus but still small enough that it could seriously compete with the Civic Type R and the upcoming STI if given enough power. Drop an upgraded 2.3L Ecoboost (i’d prefer the 2.5L Inline-5 Turbo) under the hood at around 395hp with rear biased AWD, torque vectoring and a few other things and you have a Crossover-hot hatch that is ready to do business.
    Like I said the F150 is fine, just needs a lightning version with a 5.8L Supercharged V8. Honestly, this simplified ford’s lineup and makes it better all the way across the board and everything can be global.

    Reply

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