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Ford axes sedans in North America

Blown fuse: Ford’s Fusion will be one of several sedans to be discontinued in North America, throwing a question mark over the long-term viability of the closely related European-built Mondeo.

Passenger cars safe in Australia for now as Ford gives sedans the chop in US

Ford logo26 Apr 2018

FORD Australia plans to continue with its passenger sedan and hatchback line-up, despite an announcement overnight by its parent company that it plans to drop such vehicles from the North American range in the next few years.

In the United States, the only passenger models to be retained will be the Mustang and a crossover version of the all-new Focus, called Active, due next year.

This means cars such as the Taurus large sedan – once America’s top-selling car – plus the mid-sized Fusion, Fiesta light hatchback and most of the Focus small-car range will be given the chop, along with some slow-selling models from Ford’s premium Lincoln range.

Because Ford North America is planning to import the Focus Active from China, the Mustang will be the only passenger car made in the home of Ford, with all other plants in the US, Canada and Mexico turning out SUVs, trucks and vans.

In Australia, Ford is also planning to put most of its marketing effort into popular vehicles such as the Ranger ute, SUVs – Everest, Escape, EcoSport and upcoming Endura – plus the Mustang sportscar and Transit commercial van.

But as GoAuto has already reported, Ford Australia plans to import the next-generation Focus from Europe starting late this year, along with one sporty ST variant of the latest-generation Fiesta.

It also plans to continue with the mid-sized Mondeo from Europe “for the foreseeable future”.

Because Mondeo is closely related to the American Fusion which is about to be axed, it remains to be seen if the business case for a next-generation Mondeo can be made in a world mad about SUVs.

Mondeo sales in Australia are down 35.8 per cent so far this year, to 543 units, making it the sixth best-selling Ford vehicle behind the Ranger, Mustang, Focus, Everest, and Escape.

In a statement released from Ford Motor Company’s global headquarters in Dearborn, Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett said his company was committed to taking appropriate actions to drive profitable growth and maximise the returns of the business over the long term.

“Where we can raise the returns of underperforming parts of our business by making them more fit, we will,” he said. “If appropriate returns are not on the horizon, we will shift that capital to where we can play and win.”

Ford said that by 2020, almost 90 per cent of the Ford portfolio in North America would be trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles.

“Given declining consumer demand and product profitability, the company will not invest in next generations of traditional Ford sedans for North America,” the company statement says.

“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.

“The company is also exploring new ‘white space’ vehicle silhouettes that combine the best attributes of cars and utilities (SUVs), such as higher ride height, space and versatility.”

Ford has also re-committed to electrifying its range, adding hybrid powertrains to high-volume vehicles such as the F-150 pick-up, Mustang, Explorer large SUV, Escape and Bronco.

“The company’s battery electric vehicle rollout starts in 2020 with a performance utility (SUV), and it will bring 16 battery-electric vehicles to market by 2022,” the statement says.

The company also announced that it now wanted to achieve its targeted 8.0 per cent profit margin by 2020, two years earlier than previously announced.

Ford announced a 9.0 per cent increase in net income in the first quarter of this year, to $US1.7 billion ($A2.25b), on revenues of $US42 billion, up 7.0 per cent.

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