Ford reclassifies the car in US

Sat, 5 May 2018 | Latest News
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Ford is banking on utes such as the F-150, and SUVs, for its future. PHOTO: REUTERS

Is Ford killing the car? Not exactly, but SUVs do own the road, writes  Eric D. Lawrence

Don't write the passenger car's obituary yet. Ford's announcement that it is killing almost all of its traditional car models in the US is dramatic proof that passenger cars have lost their lustre. But is the traditional car really dead?

Not exactly, according to industry experts. Ford's rival, General Motors, isn't ready to call for last rites.

GM executive vice-president and chief financial officer Chuck Stevens said that although passenger car segments have declined in recent years, they are still very important.

‘‘The compact crossover segment globally is the biggest, and then it's compact cars and they still represent here in the United States ... [a] fairly significant portion of the overall sales.''

Ford is to stop selling the Taurus, Fusion, Fiesta and C-Max in North America, leaving only the Mustang and upcoming Focus Active crossover. The car maker, like others, is having to choose where to put its resources and is using more profitable vehicles - utes and SUVs - to pay for research into a future geared towards new forms of mobility.

Analysts have been predicting for months that a shift in consumer preference towards SUVs is permanent, but Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst for Navigant Research, said the reality is that cars still have a place.

‘‘Even if it's only 20% globally, that's still 15 to 20 million a year.That's not an insignificant quantity.'' Jim Farley, Ford's president of global markets, said that some of today's SUVs will be considered cars.

Consumers will look at vehicles such as the next-generation of the Escape, one of Ford's most popular SUVs, and won't ‘‘classify them as a truck at all'', he said. They'll have space, comfort and good fuel economy. He called it a ‘‘new era of classification''.

 - TCA