Thursday, October 20, 2005

AutoProphet discusses Chrysler's attemtp to chalenge the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor

For most of my 40 years on this planet Ford has been a major player in Law Enforcement vehicles. Thanks to deals with TV production companies, most of the police cars you saw on TV were Ford products, from Mayberry to the Streets of San Francisco and even Jack Lord of Hawai 5-O served and protected in a FoMoCo product. And when Chevy stopped production Ford truly dominated the Police Interceptor market.

Even with some departments moving to front wheel drive Impalas and various SUVs, the majority of police vehicles are Ford Crown Victorias. Well every few years someone tries to knock Ford off that perch and now with the recent bad press and lawsuits, it could be Chrysler's time to shine. Now that they've returned to the world of rear wheel drive sedans, Dodge's Charger could be the car that replaces the Crown Vic. The Auto Prophet points out correctly that Ford's price could be a saving grace, and the service history of the platform has been good. But with the much publicized fuel tank problems Ford could loose an important market.

All the more reason to bring out a redesign or replacement for the aging Panther Platform, which has changed little since 1979. As I've said before, Ford needs a new rear wheel drive platform not a fleet of 500 clones. The Police, Taxi and Limo sales have kept the Panther platform profitable for Ford and they will miss the sales dearly. A redesign for these cars should have been a priority years ago and now is critical with new cometitors on the way. No I don't anticipate that Hyundai will build an Interceptor package on their new rear wheel drive model, but the rumors of GM's return to rear wheel drive and Chrysler's hot new models should be all the motivation needed to get a new Panther class of vehicles out there.

It's not just a matter of money to me, it's another example of Ford admitting defeat in a segment they dominated, like the Ranger in the Compact Truck segment and how the Focus has been left to stagnate while the competition rolls out new product all around it. You can't just surrender markets and hope that full size trucks will keep you going, or hope that Hybrids (which they can't build enough of) are going to pick up the slack.


Shawn said...

...I think cost is going to be the biggest issue. The Charger costs more, takes premium fuel, repairs will be very expensive, and it is uni-body.

I think it will be popular until the police departments get the bills later.

Crown Vic needs to be replaced to re-done...I mean, come on, American police cannot be forced to drive on German platform.

Anonymous said...

I agree Ford has dropped the ball again. Price is the only advantage , and the Chrysler platform is very capable ( even thought as stated that it is unibody) most will probably be the 250HP 3.5 V-6's. witch will match the performance of the Vic.

Why can Ford provide Europe and Asia with such inovative products , and the North American market gets second hand duds.


NLPRacing said...

The European market and North American market is very different. A Euro Fiesta sells for as much as a NA Focus, a Euro Focus sells for as much as a NA Fusion, a Euro Mondeo sells for as much as a NA Five Hundred, and so on. Ford does NOT sell Mercury or Lincoln in Europe, just Ford. So Ford has to be able to deliver Mercury and Lincoln type vehicles without the M/L name. NA Ford car buyers would NOT pay the prices that the Euro products would need. Besides, if you want a Euro Focus, go down to Mazda and buy a Mazda3 or go to Volvo and buy an S40. Someday, Ford will sell a C1 based Focus here, but by then, there will be an even better Euro Focus. NA does not get second hand duds, they get vehicles that Ford can sell here at a profit. Starting with the GT, Mustang , Five Hundred & Fusion, I think Ford's future looks pretty bright.

Big Ford Fan said...

NLP, first I want to say hello and welcome to MyFordDreams.

Now I can see your points about Ford of Europe and North America being different, but I disagree. I think that what many Americans forget when we see the prices of European cars is that the price includes taxes and road fees. If you back those costs out of the selling price it becomes evident that the gap is not as extreme.

Ford could sell those cars here and should. I hope the future for Ford is good, but recent news is alarming.

Anonymous said...

The budget for a Panther replacement or update has been cut many times.
But the much bigger problem is that Ford doesn't have an engine to compete against the Hemi, or even against the 400-HP 6 liter GM V-8. The V-8 engine budget fell years ago, the modular family is dated, and the Hurricane "big" engine got cancelled (as far as we know).

NLPRacing said...

BFF - Thanks for having me. If Ford could sell the Euro vehicles here at prices that would be less then the Japs & Koreans, then they would be competitive. I don't think that Ford could do that. I'm sure Ford has run the business models on it and it probably didn't make any sense. Now if maybe they were to import the C1 Euro Focus here as a sporty Mercury positioned against the Acura RSX and Civic Si, it would probably do well and get the price needed to make it profitable.

Jeff - Ford could sell a competitive engine to the Hemi if they wanted to. The 3V 4.6 in the Mustang makes 300 HP. There is no reason the 3V 5.4 couldn't make 350 HP and still use 87 octane fuel. It could even make 400 HP if tuned properly to use 93 octane and had direct injection. Maybe even more if it was punched out to use the Cammer 5.0 bore with the 5.4 stroke to make it a 6.0 V8. That could easily make 400 HP, probably on 87 octane. Here's the problem. Ford doesn't sell enough fuel efficient cars to offset this potential gas guzzler. Now if the government changes the CAFE requirements, and if Ford starts selling 4 cyl Fusion's like crazy, and/or gas drops back to around $1.50 a gallon, then we may see a more powerful MOD V8 or they may even resurrect the Hurricane. Until at least two of those three things happen, we're not going to see any 400+HP Fords except the SVT Mustang, SVT Sport Trac and the GT.

Big Ford Fan said...

Jeff, good to see your input again, but NLP may have a point about the 5.4 and the possability of a 6.0 version is a new idea for me. I also think that Direct Injection Technology will be important to all future cars, as another tool towards better economy.

The way I understand it, is that cylinder deactivation such as Chrysler's won't work on the 4.6 mod motors becasue they have overhead cams. I think that's actually funny, that the more modern design isn't compatible, but know that now with the talk of "cam-less" motors, we may see many new advancements throughout the industry. It's going to be an interesting decade, because that's how long some of this technology will take to filter into mainstream vehicles.

NLP, I don't disagree with what you are saying, actually one of my earliest posts to the blog was an idea to differentiate Mercury by selling Euro Fords as Mercury models. But I feel that I need to point out something that everyone forgets when talking about UK and Euro Prices. The prices advertised over in Europe are what are reffered to as "on the road" or "delivered" prices. That means the price includes your VAT and road fees which would be the equivilant of our Sales Tax and Registration fees, only much higher. The same car without these fees would reflect a lower price, more akin to our MSRP.

Also Ford is looking into building Fiestas in Mexico, to we would get the European design at a lower price point. The same is being considered for the EcoSport (Fusion) that may be here by 2008.