Big response to my last blog on Ford Motor Company’s acceleration of The Way Forward program, dubbed ‘Fast Forward.’ Here’s a taste of what you’re saying:Editor’s Note: Some submissions have been edited slightly from original versions
Ford’s problems are mostly of their own making. Paying customers buy products that represent their needs/wants and perceived value, period.Over the last 10-years Ford has had competitive product offerings in several categories – namely full-size truck, small and medium SUV, and sports car with new Mustang. This is severely inadequate for a car company that is supposed to be mainstream.
A full range of competitive products is the right answer. Then sales would increase and plants would expand. It is that simple. But Ford has the opposite situation, and it is entirely their own fault by not focusing on core products that the customer will love.
Ford has to concentrate on building competitive mainstreams vehicles. For example, the Ford Ranger at one time was leader of the pack in compact trucks. It was not mentioned in your article. Ford fumbled the lead in this vehicle category – the Ranger is very stale. It is their market loss and a loss for the workers at that plant or plants. Think about it. If today Ford had a competitive, tough-as-nails, compact pickup with high-mileage gas and diesel engines they would have a market winner. But they don’t, and it is simply Ford’s own fault for not continuing to improve the product.I could go on, but hopefully the point has been made.–DENNIS PILLOW
Fast forward? Maybe Ford should rewind instead. While the Fusion looks nice, it is stuck with a lackluster 220hp (Editor’s note: ’07 Fusion is 221hp, huge difference, we know). I know the original SHO also had 220hp, but it felt like it had all the horses present, plus a few more. The Five Hundred is not my cup of tea, however, it does have a pleasing design, but sadly it has a lower power engine than the Fusion. Ford’s entry level, the Focus, is old news, although it does look nice, it is chained to last millennium’s chassis, and still underpowered compared to the competition. Ford still has the style covered, but what happened to the power?
Ford needs a boost under the hood. First, the Focus needs at least 200hp to even look competitive to the Civic Si. Second, the Fusion would look very tempting with a 300hp V6, all-wheel drive, and a 6-speed manual, a modern day Taurus SHO. Third, the Five Hundred is desperately crying for the 4.4L V8, but not to step on Lincoln‘s or Volvo‘s toes, a detuned 280hp 4.0L version would suffice. Fourth, Ford /needs/ to import the Falcon, Fairlane and their FPV variants from Australia, along with the European Fiesta and Ka. Last, Ford should consider another Thunderbird, not like the previous generation, nor the ’90s overweight barge, but rather the ’80s version, an extended wheelbase Mustang. The cure for Ford’s ills is a shot of Vitamin H – Horsepower.–RONALD NOTTINGHAM; Dalton, GA
I decided to write because I am avid lover of Ford products owning a 1965 and a 2005. I feel that their front wheel drive is one of the main problems. People want more response while driving and cannot get it with front wheel drive, which feels awkward, because it has too much control. I believe that if they started moving their cars to rear wheel drive it would accelerate sales. The other major factor is engines, if these cars had bigger, more powerful, more efficient engines with rear drive, it would make it a great car again. –JEDIDIAH
Todd, I think you are right on the mark. Ford’s Lincoln division has been a drag on the company for years. There must be someone over there that has been there way too long & has a lot of pull because year after year they fail to do ANYTHING right. They bitch & whine when they can’t keep a new engine exclusive to the brand so the T-Bird dies. They refuse to put a decent engine in a fairly good car like the Five Hundred ’cause the Lincoln people will whine. They stuck with the same crappy auto transmission for decades. Ford is right where they ought to be & I’m a Ford man. If you continue to make the same stupid mistakes year after year, well, maybe it’s time they folded.–JC GUIDRY
Ford’s been trying to play Toyota‘s game for too long. They need to make cars that are edgy. Cars that we’ll love or love to hate. You have to win and lose some, but those that love it will buy it over a bland car that may be slightly better than the more appealing car. The “prettier it is the better it is” mentality is imbedded in all of us. For some reason, we tend to connect good looks with being better than everything else out there. That’s why we go after the pretty women and the old cars of the “Golden Age” of automotive history. Currently, the Fusion and the Zephyr don’t cut it. Why does the Mustang sell? Because it’s different and while many find it highly appealing, some don’t. But that doesn’t matter, because those that like it buy it. Same story for Chrysler‘s 300C. Personally, I’m not crazy about that car, but that’s just me. But I’d rather see character on the road than these grotesquely blank hunks of metal. –CHRIS
I do not know what Ford is doing as a company but I can say that whatever they are doing is a failure. That new Navigator is absolutely one of the ugliest SUVs to be released on the market. Should it have a more powerful engine to separate it from the Expedition? At least GM has the Escalade with the premium engine exclusive to its premium brand. Even though Cadillac and Lincoln traditionally have been direct competitors I see those days as being over. While Caddy still has some catching up to do with the premium German and Asian brands they are at least making steps in the right direction. The new Lincolns cannot even compete with Cadillac because Caddy has become more of a competitor with BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, and Audi. –JAMALE HOWARD
If I were Ford the first thing I would do is get rid of Mercury. I hate to say but all they are is a nicer trim Ford or a lower trim Lincoln, whichever way you want to look at it. Then I would sell Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover off; this way you can raise money. The reason I would do this is because all three have quality problems and we all know the last thing we Americans want to do is buy a poor quality British car from a poor quality American car company. I would keep Volvo just for their track history with safety and innovation.–SAM
I am a big Ford fan (more of a Mustang fan) and I hope for American carmaker success. But, what I read of your article I saw nothing of Ford making good, reliable cars. Ford needs to stop thinking they can generate revenue from making a bunch of new cars and SUVs with the same crap engines. The American car industry has been trying to win over people by targeting style over substance. Japanese carmakers looked the other way, substance over style but are now combining the two, leaving American and even some European carmakers in the dust. Make an engine that is reliable and you’ll win people over. People don’t necessarily want a beautiful-looking woman with bad health problems, unless they’ve got problems themselves.–JAMES; Long Beach, California
For a performance car enthusiast Ford’s “The Way Forward” plan is more like “The Way Backward” plan. They dropped the V8 option from the Lincoln MKS, the Lincoln Navigator no longer has the 32V 5.4 V8, there is no longer any SVT version of anything, and the only truly powerful Ford offered is the GT500 Mustang which is over weight and over priced. Do you think Ford has noticed the success of the Chrysler SRT program? I will be in the market for a new car next year and the last 6 cars I bought have been Fords but I am reaching my mid-life crisis and I want something fast and fun to drive. It doesn’t look like Ford will be getting my business. — DAVID TERBROCK; St. Louis, MO
I have to think that what Ford is doing should do wonders for the company. It took some stones for Bill Ford to do what he did. I just don’t get it when it comes to the consensus of auto writers always bad mouthing Ford products. The Fusion is a darned good car. The Five Hundred is a darned good car that could stand some more power, but nonetheless a fine auto especially for whom it was probably meant for. The ‘Stang is selling at MSRP and the deal of the decade for “bang for the buck” and the F-150 is one fine pickup. The Explorer is one darned good SUV though the gas mileage it gets isn’t too swift, but it’s right in the ballpark with other SUV’s regarding mileage that I’ve driven. Ford has good products but it’s obvious they have to cut costs to stay alive. I’ll continue to buy USA based company products and won’t fall for that marketing hype that Toyota is pushing about who really is a USA manufacturer. It’s not Toyota, Honda, Nissan, etc. — STEVE HAMPTON
Looking at Ford’s plan for new cars and trucks I did not see any mention about the Ranger. Is this not a profitable product for Ford? I have not seen them do anything with this truck while Nissan and Toyota have improved their product quite a bit. I do not have any sympathy for Ford; they have just sat around and let their products age. This is why they are where they are today.–TOM RILEY
Ford really needs to seriously consider importing some of its Europe/Asia/Australia only models here. First and foremost, Ford needs to bring the Falcon over here from Down Under. The Falcon could provide the sport sedan Ford really needs to complete its product portfolio; I think of it as the Fusion is a modern day Galaxy, and the Falcon is the modern day Galaxy 500. The Fusion would be the dedicated family car, where the Falcon would be the driver’s choice. –MARK W. FARNIK
On the Lincoln MKS I agree with you that the 4.4 V8 works better than a bored 3.7L.–WILLIAM TAYLOR, JR.; Griffin, Georgia
I don’t think that Ford’s latest plans can help Ford much, and I think Ford is losing the battle for the following reasons:
- Lack of good engines – didn’t Ford know that most of its engines are not high-efficiency engines?
- Focus too much on truck segment
- Truck-like styling on car/minivan (Fairlane? Freestyle? 500?)
- Stop using Mercury brand name – it sounds like poison or disease
- Buy and/or redesign new engines
- Sell more European car/minivan in the U.S. (e.g. Ford Galaxy and S-Max)
- Replace the truck design force with European car/minivan design team
- Be creative and use a new brand name, something like Scion, Acura, or Infiniti to replace Mercury
— QING LI; Wayne, Texas
I think Ford needs to bring their European lineup to North American shores. That Ka and the Fiesta look like fun little cars!–STACEY LITZENBERGER
I am a car nut and it really pains me to see Ford going through this much trouble trying to stay on top of its game. It is unfortunate that paying employees healthcare has to be done the way it is in America as apposed to Japan. These huge overhead costs hold our manufacturers way behind the competition.
Ford has always struck a strong chord with me. I like the direction many of their designs have taken in recent years. Especially, with the Ford GT, it was nice to see Ford take a risk on a project like that. This business is about selling cars.
I’m an engineer at the University of Texas working on FSAE racecars. I’ve come to understand much more about the mechanics of cars and their relative simplicity. I think that much of this simplicity is new design influx that many cars need to be infused with.
Understandably, I look at cars much more from a performance aspect rather than anything else, but a car that is fun can make a huge difference. Right now, I own a ’98 Honda Accord, but it really is a fun car to drive. The design is simple and the execution is marvelous. The ride is firm but never jarring; steering is direct but sometimes just too weak; the gearbox works just fine.
When you look at the Ford lineup there really is nothing to get excited about. The Mustang is cool, but it is too heavy, too big. The design of cars needs to be kept simple but exciting.
I think that what Ford really needs is to focus design on simplicity, inside and out, eliminate much of the waste that comes from controlling so many brands, and introduce a car based on simplicity and fun. This car would be much like a Miata, but simpler still. It needs direct steering, firm, FIRM ride, and maybe something really novel like open wheels. This new infusion aimed at the “petrolsexuals” like me could really cause some excitement about this now lackluster brand.
Engineers are there for a reason, let them make it happen.–SAMUEL KUTSCHA; University of Texas at Austin
Lincoln needs better products if they want to compete against the likes of Cadillac and Buick. The MKS is garbage in styling and in the engine. The V6 can not compete against the best from Cadillac. The Mercury division needs better products and Ford needs to try new things, not steal ideas from the Japanese.–BRYCE SYLVIA
I am like you disappointed in Ford these days, with limited focus on the new product offering in the future. For instance, the Town Car. While the car may be popular with livery and limo fleets and highly profitable today the car is extremely outdated. It is only a matter of time before Chrysler drops the pricing on the 300s to compete. Also, speaking of fleets, Ford’s Crown Victoria is getting some real competition from Chevy‘s Impala in police departments. What this means is I do not think Ford can wait until 2009 to upgrade the Town Car and the Crown Vic. It is too bad Ford won’t redesign the Town Car like the show car of a few years past. In my opinion Ford needs to return the Town Car to glory days of the early 60’s. Unfortunately that may never happen. –ROBERT L. HAAG; Roswell, New Mexico
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