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Mulally: Ford to use global platforms for small, mid-sized cars

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Mulally: Ford to use global platforms for small, mid-sized cars

Amy Wilson

Automotive News

August 23, 2007 - 12:50 am EST

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. plans to sell common vehicles across its global regions in the small and mid-sized car segments, CEO Alan Mulally said Wednesday.

Shared global vehicles are a centerpiece of Mulally's strategy to turn around the struggling Ford Motor. The company already has committed to introducing a global subcompact -- or B-segment vehicle -- but Mulally confirmed Wednesday that Ford's next-generation Focus and Fusion cars would also be global vehicles.

The industry's complexity -- demonstrated by dramatic overlaps in Ford's global vehicle lineup -- was the biggest surprise Mulally discovered after becoming Ford's CEO last September.

"We all kind of had to suck it up and say, this is an opportunity rather than a problem," said Mulally, who met with reporters Wednesday in advance of his first anniversary at Ford.

Mulally and Ford product executives aren't yet revealing the timing for the future global vehicles. But suppliers and analysts expect Ford to introduce a global Focus in 2010 or 2011, while a global mid-sized car to replace the current U.S.-market Fusion would follow later next decade. The global cars won't be identical; they'll sport styling and tuning customized for each region, Ford executives said.

Ford global product chief Derrick Kuzak did announce Wednesday that Ford will reduce the number of platforms it uses by 40 percent during the next five years. That will leave the automaker with 10 core platforms by 2012. About 70 percent of Ford's global products will be based on those 10 platforms, Kuzak said.

Kuzak wouldn't list the surviving platforms, but he did acknowledge that the Mazda-engineered platform underpinning Ford's next-generation B-segment cars is one example.

Ford is reducing complexity in subsections of the vehicles, too. Ford will reduce the number of six-cylinder engine architectures from eight to two during the next five years, Kuzak said. The company already has trimmed the number of four-cylinder engine architectures from 10 to three. And the number of seat structures Ford uses will be reduced from 20 to two, he said.

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v-6's from 8 to 2..... the 3.5L and 3.0L?

how long ago did gm make, basically, this same statement? lol

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I'm glad that Ford has someone on board that seems genuinely committed to sorting out their mess. It does seem like a waste of money to have so many overlapping components in the company.

The next thing that needs to be done is to sort out and reevaluate the company's brands. Mazda, Volvo, and Ford of Europe seem to be fine; each brand has its own design DNA and purpose. Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln in the United States need a lot of attention. The biggest challenge will be what to do with Mercury and Lincoln. Both brands have absolutely no relevance, identity, or purpose other than channels to offer "gussied-up Fords". At one point I thought Mercury could be utilized as an opportunity to import some of Ford of Europe's products and become an upscale, Eurocentric brand. This strategy might not work if U.S. Ford loses its "Red, White, & Bold" design philosophy and aligns its designs with Ford of Europe. Lincoln is totally out of the luxury end of the market; at best they are a near luxury brand. This also presents a problem for Mercury, since this is the territory that Mercury should be covering. Let's hope that Ford gets this figured out because I don't really see a future for all three brands if they are going to continue to produce obvious badge-engineered jokes. I understand sharing platforms and components to save money, but everything the customer sees and interacts with needs to be unique and upscale if Mercury or Lincoln want to reclaim their relevance and market position.

But one thing at a time. Ford needs to cut out fat and restore their profit levels first. Hopefully after they accomplish this, they can fix the badge-engineered mess.

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Too bad somebody didn't get the memo about the 2008 Focus.

Must have been too expensive to use a global platform.

Exactly. Yeah, that's it. That's why we did that.

It's kind of funny, but also kind of sad that it takes an outsider to come in and clean house.

To do the obvious, that which should have been done long ago.

Global platform, the return of the Taurus name, forcefully resisting CAFE rules that are not attribute-based, etc....


Glad to see Mulally ruffling some feathers and making some tough decisions.

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