Those of you who read Vent #525, in which I had the temerity to make recommendations to once-mighty General Motors, may recall that in the last paragraph, I threatened to do the same for the other two (or 1.5, depending on your point of view) members of Detroit's Big Three. And now it's Ford's turn.
Things are happening in Dearborn, and they're generally not good things. As recently as 1998, Ford had 25 percent of the US automotive market. Today it's more like 10 percent, and it's not getting any better.
What's gone wrong? The most obvious problem, I think, is stale product. Consider:
Nor has the Premier Automotive Group, the umbrella for Ford's Euroluxe brands, been much of a world-beater: while Volvo is holding its own, Jaguar is losing money right and left, and Land Rover is still suffering from the same quality issues that bedeviled their previous British (and, later, German) ownership. Aston Martin was doing well, but Ford sold off 92 percent of the company last month for a bit less than $1 billion, cash sorely needed in Dearborn.
This is not to say that there are no bright spots for Ford. The Fusion family sedan is doing fairly well, and at least some people are cross-shopping it with the Toyota Camry, which has ruled this segment for years. The new Edge crossover-SUV is also scoring well for Ford in a new niche, garnering sales that never would have gone to the Freestyle. And, well, everyone still loves the Mustang.
Still, a few things really need to be addressed:
And for Edsel's sake, couldn't you come up with a better name for a new crossover than "Flex"?
Two down, Chrysler to go.
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Copyright © 2007 by Charles G. Hill