Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Dearborn, MI, United States (4E) – The Ford Motor Company says its decision to stop producing practically all its passenger cars in the United States isn’t an effort to get rid of its most affordable vehicles to make more expensive SUVs but is aimed at “reinventing the American car” by making them abroad.
At the company’s recent annual meeting, top Ford executives led by CEO Jim Hackett tried to put a positive spin on their decision to do away with sedans in Ford’s North American line-up that’s angering the motoring public. Critics said Ford’s plan to stop making the Fiesta, Focus and Taurus; limit the Focus to one crossover model and concentrate on more profitable trucks and SUVs is completely eliminates entire market segments of affordable vehicles.
Ford said SUVs/crossovers and pick-ups will comprise 90 percent of its North American line-up by 2020. This means only the iconic Mustang and the new Focus Active will be the only passenger cars made and sold by Ford. The new Focus Active 2020 will be imported into the United States in the 2020 model year. This car is said to be a five-door hatchback with the visual characteristics of a crossover. The Focus Active will be assembled in China as a joint venture with a Chinese company.
“This doesn’t mean we intend to lose those customers,” said Ford CEO Jim Hackett of Americans that buy its cars. “We want to give them what they’re telling us they really want. We’re simply reinventing the American car.”
Hackett is the mastermind of the plan to eliminate Ford cars altogether. The change to Ford’s line-up is part of Hackett’s goal to slash $25.2 billion in costs by 2022.
Hackett said the shift away from sedans isn’t an abandonment of traditional cars but as a transformation of them.”We don’t want anyone to think we’re leaving anything,” said Hackett. “We’re just moving to a modern version. This is an exciting new generation of vehicles coming from Ford.”
Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. blamed media for the public’s outrage at Ford’s plan to forsake the production of sedans in the U.S. altogether.
“I wish the coverage had been a little different,” he said. “If you got beyond the headline, you’ll see we’re adding to our product line-up and by 2020 we’ll have the freshest showroom in the industry. The headlines look like Ford’s retreating. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.”
Bill Ford said the company will be use the cost savings to return cash to shareholders; invest in new technology and businesses and fund restructuring.”We believe we can take care of all three,” he said.
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