Welcome to The Grid, R&T's quick roundup of the auto industry and motorsports news you should know this morning.
Ford's Car Decisions
Last week, Ford announced that it was cutting all passenger cars, except the Mustang and Focus Active, from its US lineup. The brand would instead put its muscle behind light trucks and crossovers which are making a profit for the business and seem to be where the industry is heading. The move isn't really a shock, since Ford has already confirmed the new Fiesta wouldn't head to the US and the aging Taurus and Fusion weren't getting expected refreshes and updates.
Reaction has been mixed, to say the least. Some are , saying that it makes sense for the company to leave the market if it's not profitable for them. Others , that abandoning passenger cars leaves a hole in the market that can be quickly filled by competitors, particularly nascent brands from China. It also totally reverses what Alan Mulally did when he took over the company in the 2000s, making them broaden the portfolio to focus on the full line instead of just light trucks. There's a thought that this might not work for the company if fuel prices were to spike again, like they did when Mulally was in charge.
But it's a different market now and Jim Hackett has been tasked with transforming the company. As , Ford's current crossovers get better fuel mileage than small cars of the late 2000s, and have way more cargo room. The company needs to focus on what it can sell and profit on. The passenger cars were aging and no longer compelling choices for buyers. It's a shame that we won't be getting the new Fiesta and all variants of the Focus, which will be, by all accounts, excellent cars. But the small car market in America is notoriously fickle, and as of right now, there isn't the demand to make a business case for bringing those models to the states. They were surely designed with federal compliance in mind, so if the tides do change and small cars are suddenly the hot thing, it wouldn't be a shock to see them reappear here.
And the Mustang is sticking around, which is always good news. We are interested to see what this will mean for the long-term future of Ford Performance, though we doubt there'll be much change. We know that there will still be a Fiesta ST and can assume that a Focus ST and RS will be coming, they just won't be coming for the US. Of course we're mad about this, because we love hot hatches. But we're also not the majority and we're not all buying hot hatches. Plus we are getting the Edge ST, an Explorer ST, and the Raptor isn't going anywhere, so long as it continues to print money.