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FUTURE PRODUCTS 2003: Ford to revive entire line -- on a budget
The big test: Spin 10 vehicles from Mazda6 platform

By Amy Wilson
Automotive News / August 11, 2003

Ford Motor Co. product planners face a herculean challenge: Improve quality, speed development time and introduce a great variety of cars and trucks.

Oh, yeah, and wring 10 percent more output out of the money and staff available each year.

Ford says it will bring out a wide range of new, redesigned and re-engineered Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models during the next five years in North America. And, in a bid to turn around losses that totaled $6.4 billion for 2001 and 2002, Ford also aims to cut an average of $700 in materials costs from each North American-built vehicle by mid-decade.

To cut costs, Ford will

# Reduce the number of North American platforms from 16 to 12 during the next seven years.

# Use the same parts in more vehicles.

# Use more carryover parts on redesigned vehicles.

# Install flexible production equipment capable of producing a variety of vehicles on separate platforms at its assembly plants.

In all, product development chief Phil Martens says he aims to improve North American product development efficiency by 10 percent each year.

The biggest test of the new product development strategy will be the 10 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles developed off the Mazda6 mid-sized car platform. They include front-wheel- and all-wheel-drive sedans, sport wagons and minivans starting with the 2006 Ford Futura. The Mazda6-based vehicles will account for annual volume of 800,000 by 2009, when all are expected to be on the market.

Here's a model-by-model description of Ford Motor Co.'s product plans for the 2004 to 2007 model years gathered from company, supplier and other sources.

CARS

Ford Focus

The Focus will be re-engineered and freshened for the 2005 model year. A performance sedan will be offered. A new interior is part of the plan.

Beyond that, Ford is debating what to do for the next-generation Focus. A redesign could happen for the 2008 model year with the North American Focus moving to the C1 platform shared with the new 2004 Mazda3 and the redesigned Volvo S40 sedan and S50 wagon. The European Focus will move to that platform for the 2005 model year.

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But Ford also is contemplating putting the next-generation North American Focus on a separate platform, splitting it from the European Focus.


The Futura is expected to account for about 150,000 sales by 2009.
Ford Futura, Mercury, Lincoln sedans

The first vehicles engineered off the fwd mid-sized Mazda6 platform by Ford of North America will debut for the 2006 model year. Ford, Mercury and Lincoln each will market a sedan.

The Ford Futura and the yet unnamed Mercury and Lincoln models likely will be assembled in Hermosillo, Mexico.

In all, up to 10 vehicles will be developed off the mid-sized Mazda6 platform by 2009. The Futura is expected to account for about 150,000 of the 800,000 sales that the automaker is predicting by 2009 from vehicles off that platform.

The Futura is expected to be a classic family car, with more relaxed ride and handling characteristics than the sportier Mazda6. The Futura will be positioned below the Five Hundred. Awd will be offered.

The Futura's front-end design draws heavily from the highly praised Ford 427 concept. The Mercury's front-end styling will be influenced by the current Mountaineer, as will the 2005 Montego.

A Lincoln concept that will debut at the 2004 Detroit auto show is expected to hint at the styling direction for the sedan off the Mazda6 platform.

A gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Futura is planned, but no timetable has been announced.

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Ford Taurus, Mercury Sable

Both cars are freshened for the 2004 model year and receive new grilles and fascias. Taurus and Sable will be freshened again for the 2006 model year.

The vehicles have been given an extended lease on life, through at least the 2009 model year. This year, Ford had said it planned to drop the mid-sized cars some time after the 2006 Futura's debut. Suppliers were expecting production to stop in 2005 or 2006. But now the Taurus and Sable will continue in the retail lineup, contrary to expectations that they would shift to fleet-only sales after the Futura's arrival.

The low-volume wagon eventually may be dropped from the model lines.

Taurus and Sable production capacity will be cut in half. The Chicago assembly plant that produces both cars will become the site for 2005 Ford Five Hundred and Freestyle and Mercury Montego production in late 2004.

Ford Five Hundred, Mercury Montego


The 2005 Ford Five Hundred will be the brand's premium sedan.


The mid-sized Montego sedan joins Mercury's lineup for the 2005 model year.
The premium mid-sized 2005 Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego sedans will debut in late 2004. The vehicles share suspension designs with Volvo's 70 and 80 series vehicles. Fwd and awd versions will be offered.

In terms of the cars' size and packaging, the automaker points to the Toyota Avalon. The cars will feature a higher seating position than a conventional sedan, more legroom and a larger cabin.

They will be powered by Ford's re-engineered 3.0-liter Duratec V-6 engine. A 3.5-liter Duratec V-6 being developed could be added later. Two transmissions will be offered: a six-speed automatic developed by Japanese supplier Aisin Seiki Co. Ltd. and a continuously variable transmission developed with ZF Fried-richshafen AG.

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Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, Marauder

The Marauder, hyped as Mercury's muscle car, has failed to excite enthusiasts and will be dropped after the 2004 model year.

The aging, rear-drive Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis will be restyled for the 2006 model year. The cars' platform dates back to 1978.

Ford Mustang


Ford says the redesigned 2005 Mustang will be true to this concept, a big hit at the Detroit auto show.
The redesigned 2005 Mustang will debut in the fall of 2004 on a platform derived from the premium rwd DEW platform shared by the Lincoln LS, Jaguar S-Type and Ford Thunderbird. It replaces the Mustang's Fox platform, which also dates to 1978.

But Ford has created a less expensive version of the DEW platform for the Mustang, dubbed D2C, and is studying whether to build other rwd vehicles off that platform. The Ford 427 four-door sedan concept, shown at the 2003 Detroit auto show, was built using the D2C platform. That vehicle could be produced under a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury badge, Ford has said.

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The 2005 Mustang coupe and convertible will look much like the concepts shown at the 2003 Detroit auto show. Styling evokes the 1967-69 Mustangs but features modern touches. An aluminum-trimmed instrument panel will be available for around $300.

Ford Thunderbird

The slow-selling Thunderbird will be discontinued after the 2005 model year. Ford Division President Steve Lyons says the automaker eventually will introduce another product under the storied Thunderbird name. No timetable was given.

Ford GT


Talk about a limited edition: Just three Ford GTs were built for the 2004 model year. Next year, about 1,500 are slated for production.
It's all about image. Ford produced three GTs for the 2004 model year, in time for its centennial. Ford Motor CEO Bill Ford's GT is painted white. But full-fledged production won't start until the 2005 model year.

The mid-engined Ford GT's exterior styling is nearly a carbon copy of the sleek two-seaters that captured several 24 Hours of LeMans victories in the 1960s. The 2004 Ford GT's 500-hp, 5.4-liter engine produces 500 pounds-feet of torque. Ford will make about 1,500 GTs a year that will sell for around $135,000.

The Ford GT is intended to help rebuild the brand's image and take the spotlight off the automaker's problems. The GT likely will have a short run, with production ending as early as 2006.

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Lincoln LS

The LS sedan is slated for a redesign or replacement for the 2006 model year. The name may be replaced with something new as part of the strategy to reinvent the Lincoln brand this decade. What is not known is whether the automaker will re-engineer the current platform or use a premium version of the D2C platform.

Lincoln Town Car

An armored model is offered for the 2004 model year. The Town Car will be restyled for the 2006 model year.

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TRUCKS

Ford EcoSport

Ford is contemplating selling this small Brazil-made sport wagon in North America, but no timetable has been determined.

The fwd EcoSport is based on the Ford Fusion sold in Europe. A year ago, Ford was toying with bringing the Fusion to North America, but that idea was scrapped after determining that the vehicle wouldn't suit U.S. tastes. But the EcoSport has a higher stance and a more trucklike flair than the Fusion. It is smaller than the Ford Escape.

Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner


The 2005 Mercury Mariner is sister vehicle to the Ford Escape.
Ford has scrapped plans to produce a small number of Escape gasoline-electric hybrids by the end of this year for fleet customers. Instead, the company will conduct fleet testing internally before launching retail production of the 2005 Escape hybrid in the second half of 2004.

Ford says the hybrid Escape will get 35 mpg to 40 mpg in city driving. It uses Ford's 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine, a 65-kilowatt electric motor and a 28-kilowatt generator. The vehicle will have off-road and towing capability and acceleration comparable to the 201-hp Escape V-6 engine, the automaker says.

Ford will freshen the Escape for the 2005 model year.

The 2005 Mariner, a Mercury version of the Escape, will debut in the fall of 2004.

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The awd Freestyle wagon concept will evolve into a production vehicle for the 2005 model year. It will be built on the same platform as the Ford Five Hundred.
Ford Freestyle

The 2005 Freestyle sport wagon will be built off the same platform as the Five Hundred and Montego, and the three vehicles share suspension design with Volvo. Fwd and awd models will be offered. The Five Hundred's powertrains will be shared. The Freestyle will offer three rows of seats.

Ford and Lincoln sport wagons

Ford Motor will launch two 2007 sport wagons - one for Ford Division, one for Lincoln - in August 2006 at its Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant.

Styling will be sporty and curvy, more like the Nissan Murano and Infiniti FX45. That styling is intended to differentiate the Oakville-made Ford sport wagon from the Ford Freestyle. Front and awd versions will be offered.

Combined volume of the 2007 Ford and Lincoln sport wagons is estimated at 175,000 units. The Lincoln version is designed to compete with vehicles such as the Lexus RX 330 and Cadillac SRX.

This will be the second group of vehicles developed off the Mazda6 platform.

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Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer, Lincoln Aviator

The Explorer and Mountaineer will be freshened for the 2006 model year. But the Explorer-based Aviator will be dropped, possibly as early as 2005. Lincoln may revive the Aviator name for the 2007 sport wagon that is being developed off the Mazda6 platform.

Though the Explorer family has been a big seller for Ford, the market is shifting from truck-based SUVs to car-based unibody sport wagons. Ford plans to close its St. Louis assembly plant, one of two plants producing the Explorer family, in 2005 or 2006. It may not make business sense to move the St. Louis-assembled Aviator to the other Explorer plant in Louisville, Ky., and build the Lincoln there for a short period.

Ford Explorer SportTrac

Ford is studying the next step for the SportTrac, which is built on the previous-generation Explorer platform. Ford has considered moving it to the redesigned Explorer platform and adding a longer bed to create a premium entry in the mid-sized pickup market. But now it appears Ford could drop the SportTrac, possibly as soon as the end of the 2004 model year.

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Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator

The Expedition and Navigator will be freshened for the 2007 model year.

Ford also will introduce an extended version of the Expedition for the 2007 model year. Dealers want an SUV that better matches up in size against the Chevrolet Suburban. The Excursion is just too big, dealers say.

Ford Excursion

Ford will drop the large SUV after the 2004 model year.

Ford Ranger

The Ranger will be freshened for the 2006 model year, but no redesign is slated yet for the aging small pickup. The Ranger's last major redesign was in 1993, and a redesign for the 2002 model was canceled.

The cost of a complete redesign in a segment with a low price point is the issue. A Ford executive noted the Chrysler group's cancellation of its M80 small pickup project as Ford struggles to decide the Ranger's future.

Eventually, Ford could turn to Mazda for a small pickup entry.


Ford F series, Super Duty


The rear shock absorbers on the redesigned 2004 Ford F-150 pickup are mounted outside the frame rails, close to the rear wheels, to improve ride. This helps prevent the rear suspension from bouncing over bumps.
It is Ford's top selling and most profitable vehicle line.

The redesigned 2004 F-150 pickup debuted this summer. It features angular styling cues, bigger cabs and premium interiors, in addition to a new frame and V-8 engine.

The F-150 has a feature no other base pickup has in its standard cab: four doors. The additional two doors are narrow access doors, which open to a small cargo area behind the front seat, designed to store toolboxes, sleeping bags or fishing gear.

The F-series Super Duty pickup line will be redesigned for the 2006 or 2007 model year.

Ford Freestar, Mercury Monterey


Debuting for the 2004 model year is the Mercury Monterey minivan.
The Windstar minivan has been re-engineered, restyled and renamed the Freestar for the 2004 model year. The minivan features rear seats that fold nearly flush with the floor.

The companion 2004 Monterey minivan was added to Mercury's lineup.

Ford will move its minivans over to the Mazda6 platform probably for the 2008 model year.

Ford Econoline

The Econoline may be replaced for the 2007 or 2008 model year with a full-sized van designed for sale in North America and Europe. Passenger and cargo versions are planned.

The van also would replace the Ford Transit, which is sold in Europe.

If produced, the Econoline might continue in the Ford line here, serving in a lesser role.

The new van's platform, code-named V349, would be derived in part from both the Econoline and the Transit. Powertrain offerings are expected to provide better fuel economy than the current Econoline.

Automotive News Product Editor Rick Kranz contributed to this report
 

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cliff's notes:

[censored] me in the goat ass.

Basically, Ford has decided to become an also-ran with no new platforms coming to america under the Ford name. IT'll all be re-engineered and 'freshened'

I think what says it all is sharing of parts across lines (MMMM parts bins...yum) and more importantly carryover of parts across redesigns...more euphemism for freshen the damned things up instead of redesigning them.
 

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might as well just let Mazda buy out Ford! I guess I can allways start buying GM or Chrysler!
 

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I think what says it all is sharing of parts across lines (MMMM parts bins...yum) and more importantly carryover of parts across redesigns...more euphemism for freshen the damned things up instead of redesigning them.
So [censored] what? Look at what Nissian is doing...the G35/350Z/Mureano/FX45 are all on the same platform. Ford is planning on using the Madaza6 platform as the basis of alot of its future products. Why so? because its cheaper to base your cars the same design/platform and just deferante them by differen body styles and interiors. There is no longer a need to have 4-5 different platforms when one or two are flexable enough to it for u.
 

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iam strongly against splitting the focus into 2 diffrent platforms , i mean why ? its not needed man, they could save money by sticking to the same platform ... whats the deal with that ?
 

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Basically, Ford has decided to become an also-ran with no new platforms coming to america under the Ford name. IT'll all be re-engineered and 'freshened'
Have you already forgotten about the all-new Mondeo platform? Or the all-new F150? Or the recently-developed Lincoln LS platform that the Thunderbird shares (and S-Type Jag and '05 Mustang)?


What is wrong with using platforms designed by Volvo and Mazda for future cars? If they were lousy platforms then I might join in the criticism. However the Mazda6 has received at least 50 (fifty!) international auto awards in a little over a year.
It is a good platform to re-use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
they are developping 2 C/D platforms one for europe and one For NA and Mazda. why not just make one global C/D platform?

Dividing the NA Focus from the global Focus has the same logic.

If they need to cut cost so much just put a solid axle on the NA focus.
 

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they are developping 2 C/D platforms one for europe and one For NA and Mazda. why not just make one global C/D platform?

Dividing the NA Focus from the global Focus has the same logic.

If they need to cut cost so much just put a solid axle on the NA focus.
Well only thing that makes some sense is that maybe the platforms share 25% to 50% of the same parts between the two? Thats the only way it would make sense.
 

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Eventually, Ford could turn to Mazda for a small pickup entry.
This about [censored] stupid...Ford makes the Ranger based Mazda pickup for them in the States
 

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I dont know what people expect. We are not living in Europe where a Focus is a "family car" and US compact car buyers will not budge without a rebate. How can they make money if they have to retool for the C1 platform next year to satisy purists?

And so #@$^ what if Mazda has to help? Ford USA cannot design a profitable small car (and why should they bother?) and they lost the mid size war (Taurus). Best to leave those classes to the experts.
 

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All i got to say is people have to stop complaining on this site b/c it's all everyone does about ford is complain, Can you guys do a better job in the situation thier in???????? Everyone is super pissed the C1 is not coming yet.It's not much of an upgrade over the current one is it?? It's not some super duper god's gift to car platforms.The whole taurus thing just chill people the Futura is coming just the Taurus will be around a little longer.I am not complaing, You people expect an awful lot, If you don't like what foird is doing go buy yourself a Gm and you will cry later after u find out you bought a huge ass POS

Using platforms from mazda,volvo is a good idea b/c thier great and cheaper to reuse.I just think some people here are stupid and got to wake up and pull the head out of thier ass.
 

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And so #@$^ what if Mazda has to help? Ford USA cannot design a profitable small car (and why should they bother?) and they lost the mid size war (Taurus). Best to leave those classes to the experts.
Ford hasn't lost anything yet...when the first Taurus came out in 1986, it kicked the living [censored] out of everything out there and was compaired to the Audi 5000 at the time which was a vechicle double its price.

Fast Foreword 10 years. Ford kinda steps on its dick with the new 96 Taurus...its quite a bit more expesive then the older model it replaces and the styling was....polorizing to say the least. At the same time the Explorer comes to market and starts to take over . Ford loses focus on the car market, since the profit margin on SUVs are huge and thats what Wall Street wants to hear...big ole profits. With Ford and GM ignoring the mid-size market, the Japanese take it over by default. At least Ford is relizing that SUV's are somewhat long lived Fad, but they need to work on their cars also. Blame Nassar for alot of this BS
 

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umm, just so you know, most of the cars we're whining bout not getting ARE shared volvo and mazda platform cars. THat's what teh C1 is. We're disappointed cuz there'll be two C1 cars in the us, the mazda and the volvo, but not the ford.

We bitch because we care
 

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umm, just so you know, most of the cars we're whining bout not getting ARE shared volvo and mazda platform cars. THat's what teh C1 is. We're disappointed cuz there'll be two C1 cars in the us, the mazda and the volvo, but not the ford.

We bitch because we care

What I dont understand is how developing a new focus platform just for use in NA is cost saving when the C1 platform has already been developed and is about to go on sale. Ford says that world cars dont save money, but they seem to work very well for everyone else.

all the germans keep the cars the same here and there. Most of japans auto makers keep the cars the same, to an extent, Honda sells the euro accord here as the TSX for example, all subaru's.

If Ford can sell the Mazda 3 and volvo s40 here on the c1 platform, why cant it sell the focus on the C1?
 

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If Ford can sell the Mazda 3 and volvo s40 here on the c1 platform, why cant it sell the focus on the C1?
Its far cheaper to do sheetmetal changes and put in new engines in an old platform then it is to to a pretty much new from the ground up platform like the C1.

You also have to remember that the S40 and Mazada3 will command a higher price on avg then a Focus will.

In reguards to the imports....they can do that since most are built in their native country, and econmics of scale production are regional, not golbal. I'm not sure how Japanese can do it, with making the Civic and Accord both in the States and Japan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
If Ford can sell the Mazda 3 and volvo s40 here on the c1 platform, why cant it sell the focus on the C1?
Its far cheaper to do sheetmetal changes and put in new engines in an old platform then it is to to a pretty much new from the ground up platform like the C1.

You also have to remember that the S40 and Mazada3 will command a higher price on avg then a Focus will.

In reguards to the imports....they can do that since most are built in their native country, and econmics of scale production are regional, not golbal. I'm not sure how Japanese can do it, with making the Civic and Accord both in the States and Japan.
there efficent and Ford isn't they F'd up the manufacturing system with the Focus instead of Make the Foucs plant here the same as Europe they are very different. all the lessons learned in europe that make the Car cheape to build can't be used here because of differnet tecniques for manufacture. idiot move for Ford. you hand make the Focus in mexico to save money but the mexican Focus still cost more to make than the spanish made Focis.

another problem is that Focus sales have fallen and Ford hasn't adapted they should have consolodated Focus production sooner. you have both plants plant operating at 90% and 60% capasity, not the best way to squeeze a profit from a low profit model.

The Focus in 2001 harbour report was near the bottom of assembly efficently rankings. taking over 8 hours longer to build than the benchmark corolla, the mexican plant was even worse. when you already pay your workers more money than Toyota why does it take those worker 40% longer to build a similar car.


Plus the US civic is simpler to build than the focus. the C1 focus should be even easier to build than the current Focus. They have to standardize all C1 assembly operation to make the C1 the same way. that allows for improvements to be spread quickly from plant to plant.

I f Ford had clue they would have based the Futura on the focus platform too, the volumes would reduce cost futher and by using a C1 system you could improve efficency.

UAW worker are expensive, it's best to keep them working and working as efficently as possible. the UAW can deliver they work in the most efficent plant in the US. You must give them the tools and direction to do it.
 

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"Honda sells the euro accord here as the TSX for example"

Yes, but the Acura is a higher price point than the US Accord. All the Japanese compact cars based on "world" platforms are cheapened for the US.

Ford can't retool for the C1 this year, and try to sell it without rebates and make money. Ford buyers will balk at $19,000 stickers and no incentives.

The Mazda 3 and Volvo will sell for more $$$, but the Mazzda more likely will be discounted somewhat.

The whole ball of wax is how the US compact car market is thinly profitable and what can they do to make OK money?
 

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Once upon a time... American Auto companies used to ask their customers what they wanted... and then BUILD IT FOR THEM. And even if they didn't need it they did a fine job of TELLIGN THEM that it really was what they wanted (that part is called marketing). However, these days the only ads Ford runs are ones that have to show the discounted price of a vehicle. Well CUT IT OUT... tell people that your car is the coolest in the world and anybody who doesn't want one is a total no-sex getting dweeb. How hard is that?
 
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