An affordable Ford will return in 2022
By 2022 Ford Motor Company will introduce an all-new vehicle to give dealers something for budget conscious consumers who may have felt abandoned after the automaker decided to discontinue the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus sedans for the U.S. That new Ford may not be a sedan, however. It could even be a pickup truck.
Ford previously announced that it was sunsetting all of its cars in the American market except for the Mustang, in favor of pickup trucks and utility vehicles, much to the chagrin of dealers and people that prefer sedans, which are typically less expensive than their utility vehicle platform siblings.
The news about a new affordable Ford was revealed by Jim Baumbick, Ford’s vice president of enterprise product line management, at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2019 Auto Summit held in connection with the New York auto show.
A slide in Baumbick’s presentation also indicated that Ford’s plans include an on-road performance version of the upcoming “Mustang inspired” battery-electric SUV, and an FX4 version of the Explorer SUV. The previously confirmed “baby Bronco”, based on the next Escape, was on the slide as well.
While many observers concluded that in discontinuing sedans Ford was following the market’s shift to crossovers and SUVs, which was certainly a factor, return on investment and profitability were important considerations as well. For example, by replacing the Focus and C-Max that were being made at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, with the new Ranger and upcoming Bronco, Ford will be making about a billion dollars a year more from that plant, even though production will remain near 200,000 units annually.
Higher profitability is great but another piece of auto industry strategy is to gain lifetime customers with affordable entry-level vehicles, a common practice ever since Alfred Sloan, long-time CEO of GM, decided to sell a car for every purpose and every purse.
Automotive News seems to think that the new affordable Ford will be a sedan, but in a statement the automaker declined to specify a body style and we already know that Ford will be bringing a small, unibody pickup to the market in 2022, likely also based on the platform for the next-generation global Focus and Escape. That matches the time frame for the new entry-level vehicle.
Regardless of whether or not it will be sedan, Ford has sped up its development process, spending just three months on the new vehicle before it got the green light for production. A spokesman told Automotive News, “We came up with the concept in just 12 weeks using our new product creation process. Previous all-new vehicles could have taken years of research before receiving approval.”