Following the money, Ford has announced it will stop selling sedans in North America to concentrate on more profitable trucks and SUVs. The only Ford-brand cars it will sell in the U.S. will be the Mustang (a family jewel) and a single SUV-light model of the redesigned Focus hatchback called the Focus Active.
The Ford Fiesta, Fusion, Taurus and most Focus sedans all will die as their current generations play out. But truth be told, the aging U.S. models already were on life support as Ford spent money on other priorities.
Killing the sedans is part of Ford's overall plan to increase profit margins to 8 percent by 2020 by slashing $11.5 billion in costs across the company. And that means not spending any money on new generations of its car models, which are less profitable and increasingly less popular than its trucks. Sales of its cars were down 15 percent in 2017, while SUVs and trucks were up 4 percent. Ford says that by 2020, 90 percent of its products will be trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles.
The Focus Active is one of the family of redesigned 2020 Focus models Ford unveiled this month. And it turns out, that reveal was not about us. The only version destined for the U.S. is the Focus Active, which is based on the Focus hatchback, but dressed up with cladding and SUV-ish styling cues.
While the Active formula sounds similar to Subaru's Impreza-based Crosstrek or Volkswagen's Golf-wagon-based Alltrack, no details were offered on whether it's just about the look, or whether the Focus Active will have increased capability, including more ground clearance and all-wheel drive, like those other models. The full Focus line still will be produced for China and Europe, as well as other global markets.
Ford is making choices because of the amount of money that it plans to spend on new powertrains and electrification to meet fuel-economy and carbon-dioxide targets, as well as to invest in future mobility businesses and technology, including autonomous cars.
In announcing its financial and product plans, Ford said it is "making a full commitment" to new powertrains and will add hybrid-electric systems to its profitable volume sellers, including the F-150 pickup truck, the Explorer, Escape and coming Bronco SUVs, and the Mustang. It also says it will have a battery electric performance SUV on the market in 2020, and that it will roll out 16 battery-electric vehicles to market by 2022.
Ford also plans to continue its focus on autonomous vehicles, with the goal of creating an "autonomous technology business offering the most trusted and human-centered ride-hailing and goods delivery experience."
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