Ford will prune passenger car lineup to just 2 models in North America

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2018 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

2018 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

Get ready to say goodbye to beloved nameplates such as the Fusion and Taurus, as well as the Fiesta, as Ford has confirmed that its passenger car lineup will be pruned to just two models by around 2020: the Mustang and Focus Active (a soft-roader version of the redesigned 2020 Focus.)

The move is only for North America where Ford sees the shift toward utility-type vehicles such as SUVs, pickup trucks and commercial vans as permanent.

Ford made the confirmation Wednesday during a presentation for its first quarter earnings results.

Jim Hackett (left) and Bill Ford Jr.

Jim Hackett (left) and Bill Ford Jr.

The strategy was first hinted at last October following a 100-day review of Ford's operations by then-new CEO Jim Hackett. At the time, Hackett said $7 billion earmarked for passenger car development would be shifted to more profitable and better selling SUVs, pickups and other commercials, and electric cars. He also said Ford would invest heavily in self-driving cars and new mobility solutions.

It means the United States won't receive most versions of the redesigned 2020 Focus compact, including an upcoming ST hatch and an eventual RS performance flagship. That's right; the sole version we'll get is the Focus Active.

It seems like an odd decision but here is what Ford is likely thinking. The Focus Active will be a direct rival to Subaru's Crosstrek, which last year sold 110,138 units. In comparison, Ford with a much bigger dealer network only managed to sell 158,385 Focus hatchbacks and sedans in the same period.

2020 Ford Focus Active

2020 Ford Focus Active

It won't be all big SUVs and trucks, though. Ford sells the Ecosport SUV in the subcompact segment and is also working on a new pint-sized SUV with true off-road capability. The automaker on Wednesday also confirmed that it was exploring new “white space” models that combine attributes of passenger cars and SUVs, such as taller ride height and extra storage—think soft-roaders like the Focus Active.

It's a risky gamble, especially given the struggles American automakers' heavy-SUV lineups faced late last decade when fuel prices shot up. To hedge against higher fuel prices, Ford will aggressively electrify its lineup. The automaker will add hybrid powertrains to core models like the F-150, Escape, Explorer and Mustang in the coming years. It will also launch 16 electric cars by 2022, starting with a 300-mile electric SUV in 2020, though it isn't clear if all the cars will be pure electric models or if some will be plug-in hybrids.

What hasn't been mentioned is Ford's plans for Lincoln, whose sedans like the MKZ and Continental share platforms with Fords. It's likely the nameplates will still be offered in the future, with Ford perhaps hoping loyal sedan customers will shift to the more profitable Lincoln models.

 
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