With Ford Motor Company dropping all but one car from its lineup to focus on utility vehicles and crossovers, there’s little reason to run ad campaigns for both. You don’t see Coca-Cola running spots for both Diet Coke and Coke BlāK, as the latter of the two beverages disappeared from store shelves roughly a decade ago. Companies don’t bother pushing products they don’t have, and pretty soon Ford won’t have cars.
Thus, the automaker has ended all nationwide marketing for the Fiesta, Focus, Taurus, and Fusion. Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said the automaker intends to use the freed advertising dollars on the company’s current and forthcoming utility models — setting aside a portion for the Mustang. But the Fusion, which is slated to stick around for another two years, will have to go without.
“It allows us to focus our resources,” LaNeve said in an interview with Automotive News. “If we can take that money from sedans, where we have a middle-of-the-road position, to be the leading brand in SUVs, that’d be a really good position.”
While some complain that Ford’s abandonment of the traditional car is shortsighted, the plan is not without merit. Automakers stand witness to the sedan segment shrinking as crossover vehicles grow in popularity, and Ford just wants to get out ahead of the trend and capitalize on the wider profit margins of utility vehicles. However, the success of its strategy is highly dependent upon their continued growth.
Not being able to see into the future is a problem in any industry, and it remains the primary weakness in Ford’s plan. But the company should be credited for foregoing any half measures. It has committed itself to the blueprint it laid out in April. “We clearly have the right strategy,” LaNeve said.
From Automotive News:
The company’s August sales results suggest it’s the right move, executives say. The Ford brand’s car sales dropped 21 percent last month, while pickup and van sales rose 5.9 percent and utility-vehicle sales jumped 20 percent. Mustang sales jumped 35 percent as it continues to dominate the pony-car segment.
For the sake of comparison, Fusion sales were down 35 percent vs August of 2017. In fact, the sedan likely won’t surpass 200,000 deliveries in the United States by the end of 2018. Despite posting 300,170 U.S. sales just three years earlier, the Fusion has fallen on hard times. But it still manages to outsell both the Focus and Fiesta.
Ford says it won’t turn back and push the Fusion as the sedan rides out its last two years before retirement (to use a mild word). However, it is willing to help with incentives. “Obviously, we can’t let the dealers just sit on the inventory,” LaNeve explained. “We’ll keep them competitive on incentives, but we’re certainly not spending money there in a way where we’d be driving the market. We’re accepting the share we’ve got.”
You’ll have to accept it, as well. Though you might already find it difficult to recall the last time you saw any Ford prominently featured on TV that wasn’t a pickup, utility vehicle, or the Mustang.