Ford Taurus vs Dodge Charger (Photo Credit: Kendall Dodge)
In 2016, a lot of people questioned Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne’s move to eliminate the Chrysler 200 and the Dodge Dart from the FCA US portfolio. Marchionne stated that he believed that “there’s been a permanent shift toward SUVs and pickups” and citing with low fuel prices would only push more crossovers, SUVs and trucks in sales.
2018 Dodge Charger Daytona 392 (FCA US Photo)
The truth was the sedan market has been on the decrease for the past decade in the U.S. With the exception of a few vehicles like the Dodge Charger (which has grown sales almost every year since it’s 2006 model year introduction), the market for domestic manufacturers has taken a hard hit. People who did tend to buy a Chrysler 200 or a Dodge Dart, bought models more towards the entry-level trims. Low equipped models, unfortunately do not increase profit and FCA US was losing money to pay off the development of these vehicles. On the other hand, more people tend to buy crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks with more options. Pickup trucks especially bring in a lot of coin for all of the “Big-3” domestic manufacturers.
2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara JL 4×4 (FCA US Photo)
It’s been a couple of years since Marchionne announced his plans. Since then, FCA US has shifted production from many of its plants around to allow for more production volume. A move that has cost billions. In return, the plant in which the slow selling Chrysler 200 was made is now a state of the art assembly plant for the all-new 2019 Ram 1500. The assembly plant that manufactured the Dodge Dart, now assembles the Jeep Cherokee. In return the former plant that assembled the Cherokee now builds the new Wrangler JL, while the assembly line that built the last generation Wrangler JK, is getting retooled to build an all-new Jeep Wrangler based pickup for the 2019 model year.
Not all cars are gone from the FCA US portfolio. The Dodge Charger is still selling strong and has become the best seller for police sedans with the Charger Pursuit model. Dodge Challenger continues to battle the Ford Mustang back and forth each month for the best-selling two door coupe. Chrysler still has the 300, but sales have been lackluster since it’s debut in 2005. FCA US brought the Italian design Alfa Romeo Giulia to the U.S. and while the media loves the car and it has won tons of awards, it hasn’t sold many units. The Fiat brand sells the 500 and the 124 Spyder still. But as niche vehicles, sales have never been high.
2019 Ford Fusion Energi (Ford Motor Company Photo)
Well according to Autoblog.com, Ford Motor Company announced today that it is following FCA US idea to focus on crossovers, SUVs and trucks starting in 2020. Ford announced it would be cutting all car production with the exception of the all-new 2019 Ford Focus Active (which is a hatchback that follows more of the line of the Subaru Outback than your run of the mill Focus) and the American icon Mustang. All cars like the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Taurus, Continental and MKZ will be all cut from the lineup. Some of the vehicles will continue to be sold elsewhere in the world, but not in the U.S. marketplace.
Many people might think, how can Ford could making the Taurus when it underpins their Ford “Police Interceptor” Sedan. The reason is because the Explorer or Ford “Police Interceptor” SUV outsells the sedan 4 to 1. Ford only sold 7,994 Interceptor sedans in 2017 versus the Interceptor SUV’s 33,075 units. Ford also announced last year the edition of a pursuit rated Police pickup, which will basically eliminate the Taurus completely.
2018 Lincoln Navigator Black Label (Ford Motor Company Photo)
Lincoln sold a total of 2,405 Continentals in the U.S. in 2017, while there were 10,523 Navigator SUVs sold in 2017. The Navigator got an all-new model for the 2018 model year and with the first quarter of 2018 not over yet, it’s on pace to sell 4,000 to 5,000 more units in 2018. While Ford did sell over 46,000 Fiestas last year, they have brought in the new Ford EcoSport small CUV to take over where that vehicle has taken off. Vehicles like the Fusion will have it’s sales pushed towards vehicles like the all-new 2019 Ford Edge.
General Motors is also likely to follow this trend in the U.S. as well, as many of it’s passenger car plants have been idled several times over the past year because of high volume numbers.
Ford’s announcement, pushes the fact that Sergio Marchionne may have done the right thing by moving focus to profitable crossovers, SUVs and trucks. But, it also shows he may of have started a trend with other automotive manufacturers. Only time will tell, if the passenger car has sealed it’s fate.