Ford Motor Co. is implementing a new strategy for 2012 that will have the automaker launch mid-sized sedans and crossovers that rival the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry units. Ford’s global marketing chief Jim Farley refers to 2012 "Ground Zero for the American garage." What this means is that Ford is launching redesigned versions of two of its top three sellers this year into very competitive segments.
Those visiting its showrooms will be shown the redesigned Escape crossover and Fusion mid-sized sedan as a one-two strike to achieve sales. There are risks with this strategy.
The present Escape and Fusion have both set sales records of about a quarter million units in 2011 even if last year marks their last full year in production. Ford will replace these conservative top-sellers with sleek untried designs. Instead of V-6 engine offerings from both vehicles, Ford will be exclusively using four-cylinder powerplants.
Two EcoBoost engine options will be available for all vehicles, proof of just how much the market values fuel economy. Ford is hoping that U.S. consumers will like vehicles that have sporty, firmly sprung, European ride and handling characteristics.
During an interview at the Escape media launch, Farley said that Ford is optimistic about its plan to launch two hot-selling vehicles in 2012. He said that it’s “very rare” for automakers to change its best products in the same year but this is actually what many brands are doing right now.
Majority of Ford’s rivals are launching new entries in at least one of the two segments in 2012. The latest arrivals include the Chevrolet Malibu sedan, Honda CR-V crossover and Camry. Later this year, the Accord and Nissan Altima will arrive. Hyundai will also launch a redesigned Santa Fe crossover and new Elantra variants later this year.