Ford Watch 2008: Two Good Signs and Three Bad Ones

Well let’s start with the good news first because the world is already depressing enough as it is. We have the first new pics of the new 2010 Ford Fiesta and the 2010 Ford Mustang. Both are very promising vehicles for the Blue Oval brand as it attempts to return to profitability. Alan Mullaly, Ford’s CEO, has said that he wants to make the company profitable again by creating vehicles that people want instead of cutting and slashing price and products back (a la Chrysler and GM). This will be accomplished under the “One Ford” vision where vehicles will be designed to compete in multiple global markets as opposed to the current set-up where each market receives exclusive vehicles. 

 

The first vehicle that North America will get under the One Ford program will be the new Fiesta sedan (and hatchback to follow). Already for sale in Europe, the Fiesta hatchback is wowing critics and buyers over there, leaving this writer to pine for a quality small car with a domestic badge. Will this be the one? Check out the other photos of the sedan bodystyle and let us know what you think in the Comments section below. 

 

The 2010 Mustang is an important halo car for Ford. Just as Chevy is about to launch the Camaro and Dodge has just released its new Challenger, Ford is refreshing its pony car to compete in the competitive, but not particularly popular right now, muscle car arena. The new Mustang will share the same powerplants as the current model but gets thoroughly revised sheetmetal and interior design. The 2010 Mustang brings front-end design cues from the 2006 Giugiaro Concept (seen at right). It’s pretty tough to criticize anything that Giugiaro comes up with I’m going to have to say that the new front-end styling is successful. But how about the rest of the car?

 

The new taillights are much more styled than the previous generation and are more dynamic as a result. A pretty solid interpretation on the classic three vertical bar taillight, in my humble opinion. What you can’t tell from this picture is just how pointy the new rear-end is. Whereas the previous generation was quite flat, the new one angles obtusely from the duck-tail spoiler to the bumper.

 

The new interior is one of the most important upgrades for the 2010 Mustang. A higher level of fit and finish as well as a more ergonomic steering wheel make it look like a much more pleasant place to spend time. You can even get different colours of gauges! OMG pink! I think I’m going to be sick. But those pink gauges probably wouldn’t look so out of place if there was an automatic transmission instead of a manual… Those brown leather seats look very comfortable, but I think that they clash with the gauges, a no-no for the fashion-conscious. What were you thinking Ford?

Don’t expect the Mustang to be part of the One Ford vision because gas-guzzling RWD cars aren’t the most popular in Europe where fuel prices are astronomical and diesel adoption rates are over 50%. The new Mustang will be exclusive to North American markets. The One Ford program is really meant to bring Ford UK’s brilliant vehicles to the our market to replace the rubbish small cars we have over here. The vehicles we’re hoping to get include the European Ford Focus, Fiesta, Kuga, Ka, Mondeo, C-MAX, and S-MAX. Basically their entire line-up. (Check out the Ford UK website for more info about these vehicles). 

Check out the gallery to see the rest of the pics of the 2010 Ford Mustang.

 

 

Both of these vehicles are good signs that Ford will make it out of the current economic situation successfully. But is there any sign that it’s going to be a rough go? Umm three actually. 

First is the news today that Ford will be selling 20% of its stake in Mazda for about $540 million. This funds should be enough to keep the lights on at Ford for at least another month. At least. Ford will continue to share platforms with Mazda for the time being but it is unclear how Ford will be affected by the fire sale in the future. This announcement comes after Ford has sold Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover in recent years. So will this allow Ford to focus more on its own products and less about the other brands it is and was involved with? I sure hope so. (From Yahoo! News).

Second is Ford’s announcement that it will be offering 0% financing and Employee Pricing on many of its models in the US. This is another sign of desperation for Ford in the US. Ford is on the right track by using a product-led brand revival instead of a cut and slash approach, so why is it resorting to the exact tactics CEO Alan Mullaly said wouldn’t be used? Your guess is as good as mine. I think that the only way for any of the domestic manufacturers to get out of the current situation is to build vehicles that people want to buy. A radical concept, I know. Throwing cash on the hood of every vehicle they make cheapens the product in the eyes of the consumer and turns the purchasing decision into a purely logical one instead of an emotional one. (From Jalopnik). 

Third is news that Ford will be “temporarily” idling nine of its plants in North America including two in Canada. Seeing as how Ford is trying to cut production by 35% (!) this year, this should hardly come as a surprise. This is a necessary move for Ford if it wants to slim down and produce only as many vehicles as consumers want. Years of overproduction and huge incentives have put Ford in this position and now it’s all unraveled, leading to the inevitable idling of plants. The question that remains is when, or even if, those plants will reopen. (From Wards Auto). 

 

Stay tuned for more news from Detroit’s more promising automaker. 

 

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