Ford has long been synonymous with classic, family-friendly cars that offer drivers reliability, performance, and a sense of style. Generations of children have piled into the backseat of cars like the Focus, Escort, and Fusion, but with sedan sales plummeting and SUVs riding at an all-time high, it has become clear that this generation of kids is likely to look back nostalgically on the family compact SUV, rather than the family car.
Earlier this year, Ford responded to these long-term changes with the dramatic announcement that it would be discontinuing production on every one of its sedans by 2020, and would, as of 2020, only be producing two cars: the Mustang, and a redesigned Ford Focus hatchback that has been rebranded as the Ford Active.While many commentators have pointed out that this decision signals that the age of the sedan is over, the exceptions to Ford’s cuts are perhaps as significant as the cuts themselves.
Here are the two biggest takeaways from Ford’s decision to maintain the Mustang and the rebranded Focus:
What Consumers Consider A ‘Practical’ Vehicle To Be Is Changing
Most shoppers make their final decision about which vehicle to buy based on fairly simple criteria: cars that offer good fuel efficiency, reliable performance, and cutting-edge safety features at a reasonable price point typically wins out over flashier, more exotic alternatives. For a long time, sedan makers could convincingly argue that their vehicles offered the best value for money.
But in 2018 the number of affordable compact SUVs and crossover vehicles available that are dependable, fun to drive, and provide greater storage capacity than sedans has exploded. For a growing number of customers, these are simply more practical family vehicles. The Ford Action, with its crossover sensibility and hatchback body, is the only Ford sedan that offers a compelling counter argument.
Sportiness Never Goes Out Of Style
When Ford announced it would be cutting back on cars, it was almost taken for granted that this wouldn’t include the Mustang. Produced continually for more than 50 years now, the Mustang is one of Ford’s most iconic vehicles ever – every year, customers are lining up outside dealerships to get a deal on a new Mustang so it would be the height of foolishness for Ford to kill such a popular brand. But then, the Mustang was never like other cars: a muscular, full-throated racer, the Mustang was never in the same category as the Fiesta or the Taurus.
For an automotive industry still coming to grips with dizzying technological changes, from the rise of hybrid and electric cars to the introduction of driverless car technology, Ford’s decision spells a bold new direction for one of North America’s most venerable producers.
The fact that production will continue on the Ford Active and Ford Mustang only further underscores that the only car nameplates that will survive this shift are the ones that can offer SUVs serious competition, or do something else entirely.