Ford in the United States will strip its North American lineup of passenger cars, transitioning to an almost exclusive SUV and pick-up lineup, with the Mustang to remain as the only low-riding car in dealerships.
The other vehicle that is closest to being car-like (apart from the Mustang) in that transition period will be the Ford Focus Active, which is itself billed as a crossover.
“Over the next few years, the Ford car portfolio in North America will transition to two vehicles — the best-selling Mustang and the all-new Focus Active crossover coming out next year,” Ford US said in a statement. “The company is also exploring new ‘white space’ vehicle silhouettes that combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space and versatility.”
Ford of North America has set a target – by 2020, over 90 per cent of its product lineup in North America would comprise trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett said that this was to turnaround “underperforming” models.
“Where we can raise the returns of underperforming parts of our business by making them more fit, we will,” said Mr Hackett. “If appropriate returns are not on the horizon, we will shift that capital to where we can play and win. We are committed to taking the appropriate actions to drive profitable growth and maximise the returns of our business over the long term.”
Earlier in the year, Ford said that by 2020, it would have the “freshest lineup among all full-line [US] automakers”, stating that the average showroom age will drop from 5.7 to 3.3 years.
Crucial to this plan is making four new SUVs which are to be added to the range by 2020.
Also by that date will be the first fully electric vehicle from Ford, while the new Ford F-150 will get a hybrid powertrain.
Also by that time will be electrified versions of the Escape, Bronco and Explorer. In fact, a hybrid version of the Explorer is likely to hit the market in 2019.
Ford also says it estimates SUV sales could be around 50 per cent of retail sales by 2020, which is why it is pulling US$7 billion from saloons and hatchbacks and putting it toward SUVs.
To compensate for the extra fuel use that has seen some customers apprehensive about buying an SUV, Ford also said it was starting to “crack the code” enabling SUVs to offer the same fuel economy as passenger vehicles, despite their larger profile.
Turbocharging is key to this strategy, as can be seen from the current F-trucks, which have moved away from massive V8s and now receive smaller turbo V6s instead.
Many other vehicles will also get turbocharged engines, with Ford looking to turbocharge and electrify much of its SUV lineup.