In something of a stunning development, Ford has just announced that it will soon be axing most models from its North American line-up to better streamline its most profitable segments: SUVs and light trucks.
New CEO Jim Hackett spoke of the move during a recent quarterly earnings call in which he singled out the 6th-generation Mustang and crossover-esque Focus Active will survive the purge, but did not disclose when this is due to take place.
On it’s face, this is already a huge slashing of model lines. Something the business world might call a ‘streamlining’. However, when considering just how many passenger models are sold in North America, it can be better termed as a seismic shift.
Obviously, it means that the future of the Fusion (Mondeo) and all-new Fiesta looks pitch dark as far as that region is concerned. Equally bleak is the fate of the Taurus sedan, the C-Max, the EcoSport, Escape, Edge, Flex, Explorer and Expedition.
Presumably, only the US and Canada will be effected, and the cars above will still continue being sold in whichever market they are currently outside of North America. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ford also scrutinise their international range of models now that they’re in the mood.
Supposing this occurs later this year or in early 2019, it would mean that the only passenger car produced in the US by Ford would be Mustang since the North American-bound examples of the Focus are expected to be produced in China. Other models to emerge from Flat Rock following the cull include the F-150 and Super Duty.
Ford will, over the next few years, fill the gap left by these outgoing passenger models with an aggressive expansion into new SUVs and crossovers as previously teased, a rollout that will see the return of the Bronco its smaller sibling that’s expected to occur around 2020.
The company’s renewed portfolio will also emphasise electrification, with nearly all models and most variants expected incorporate some form of hybrid drive as well as a material inclusion of semi autonomous capability from Ford’s Smart Mobility division that CEO Hackett was leading prior to his promotion to the helm.
It’s also interesting to note that the purge of passenger cars from the North American market follows closely behind the restructuring of Ford’s manufacturing operations in Rayong, Thailand, which was also announced to concentrate on light commercial vehicles like the Ranger, making the availability of cars like the Focus and Fiesta in the region a little more problematic.