Friday, February 03, 2006

Jalopnik points to models to be axed as part of Way Forward

I have to actually split the hat tip on this one, because Dave over at MPH Online sent me an email on this, but his site was experiencing technical problems, then I found the info over at Jalopnik.

What yesterday was a rumor has spread like wild fire not just online, but I heard it on the radio this evening. As part of the Way Forward, Ford has shelved several new models, most notably the GT supercar, but also the Sport Trac Adrenaline from SVT. News is that SVT will be folded into another department also. Read the whole story over there, here's my view of it, as skewed as it may seem;

First the GT, this should be no surprise to anyone. The cost to have Saleen assemble the cars and the low numbers they actually sell, make this "halo" car something Ford can't afford to continue. And I had always heard that the GT would only be out for a few years, originally the rumor was that it would be replaced by either the V-10 "Cobra" roadster or the GR-1 Coupe. I know that many will be disapointed, but in reality this will have no effect on the majority of consumers. Who really can afford $150k ? Don't give up hope yet, maybe a GR-1 could pop up in the future.

Now the Adrenaline was more of a surprise, and quite frankly a disapointment. The SVT cars may not have been big cash cows for the company, but were big ego boosters, maybe not as much as the GT, but they were smaller "halos" for Ford. Now many Ford faithful that were waiting for this new SVT offering may be lured away to other brands. As I posted on recently, GM's Chevy division is offering SS version of many of their vehicles, including the Trailblazer and Silverado.

The loss of SVT as a seperate unit, is hard for me to comment on. After all, before there was SVT, there was SVO and while the unit may now be trimmed and absorbed into another section, that doesn't mean Ford has given up on Special performance models (hopefully.)

But Ford's absence from the "hot hatch/coupe" sport compact segment, and now the "performance truck" segment (which they dominated with the Lightning) has been a sticking point of many Ford fans since 2004. And although the Shelby Mustang is out this fall as a 2007 model, there are still customers that feel under served by Ford.

some sort of sporty performance variants need to start showing up from Ford soon, to inject some excitement into the lineup. An SVT Fusion would be nice.

The Way Forward may be rough terain for Ford, let's hope they don't loose some of the faithful along the way.


NLPRacing said...

Obviously, I am VERY disappointed about the SVT Sport Trac. I just hope that Ford is not giving up on SVT. I just don't get it. Instead of an SVT version of every vehicle, I guess no more SVT's altogether. I really have nothing more to say about it until I learn more. I am just really, really disappointed.

carscomblogger said...

man we're down for 5 minutes...sheesh. And you missed the big scooP! got back and it takes on your F word post from yesterday. Maybe ford is listening to you.

jwfisher said...

The GT was a short-term model anyway. And the quality issues (the "diaper" and the control arm issues leading to a fix cost that probably wiped out profit on the program), were absurd - especially for a car said to be "the pace car for the entire company". A bit more true than most people would want to know. And these things overheat at open track events, just like all other performance Fords. Rediculous... and showing once again the failed potential of SVT.

As for the Adrenaline, who cares? The thing had zero sporting potential, it wasn't something that anybody could enjoy driving in anything other than a straight line. And the engine has had a replacement history that was amoungst the worst ever from Ford.

As for SVT, that died a long time ago (just after the durability of their prodicts proved to be little more than a flash in the pan). It was nothing more than a hollow shell, without budget or product plans. Many people have already been moved out, especially given the debacles (take a look at what happened to the surviving GT team - one of the suspension guys has been demoted to designing the solid rear axle for the Ranger replacement - a punishment and professional fate worse than hell).

But worst of all is the leadership of Ford. This is no longer the company under Don Peterson who setup sponsorships of the Glen and Bondurant, who spent money on the Mustang because he understood the need for continuoous improvement, and who started the program leading to the creatrion of the modular engine family (because the all-around flexibility and performance attributes of an engine should be a source of enjoyment itself).

This isn't even the comany of Jacques Nasser, who despite controversy (depending on your position), at least had serious product plans for divisions like Lincoln, who brought Aston and more into the company, and who almost got BMW into the company. And who uttered the famous line "isn't it about time we put an IRS on the mustang?"

Nope, this is a company in bad trouble, with poor overall leadersship (some individuals stand out, but collectively it is a failure).

And a reminder to fans of the company, as I have been. Drive a lot of different cars from all sorts of manufacturers. See what *can* be done, rather than just accepting the defacto low common denominator. It's a big world out there for enthusiasts, we are truly in a golden age, and there is a lot more out there for enthusiasts than the dregs of Ford are able to provide.
(written while in the middle of a "goodbye" 600-mile roadtest in an '06 V-8 Lincoln LS - another failed Ford product that "could have been")
(1300++ blogs, >5000 images, >2000 web pages) (and a sorely dissappointed Ford fan)

jwfisher said...

I'll add my previous comments on the Ford GT (and SVE/SVT as a whole) here:

Anonymous said...

GT is going away because it would have been very expensive to re-engineer it to meet new crash and emissions regs. It is being sold basically as a carry-over car since 2003 model year. This was planned, nothing new.

Shawn said...

...GT is going away because it is a limited production sports car. In my opinion, they produced too many as it is.

GT had some problems but I think if you compare it to the maintenance needed for a Ferrari, it isn't bad at all.

Lincoln LS was pretty good, but people who buy the 3 series will never touch a domestic car.

There's 2 schools of thought on survival. First is to fight it out and throw everything in. Ignore pain, ignore the wounds and attack. The second is to stop the bleeding, regroup and not waste resources. I don't know which is best.