In the spring of 2018, Ford made the huge announcement that it would be stopping the production of its passenger cars. The Focus, Taurus, and Fiesta are all now models of the past and the Fusion has a short life ahead of it, with plans to end its production in 2021. Car enthusiasts around the country questioned the move, but Ford and GM explained that it was due to budget re-focusing, opening up more money to put into trucks and SUVs.
While trucks and SUVs make up the majority of Ford’s passenger vehicle sales, you can’t overlook the history that the company has had with sedans and coupes. The Mustang is one of its most well-known vehicles, dating back to 1964, and will be the only Ford car sticking around for now. But what have Ford car owners thought about the change?
Ford prides itself in customer loyalty
For years, Ford has been one of the country’s leading auto manufacturers. The Ford F-150 has been America’s best-selling vehicle for 37 years running. With stats like that, you can see how much of a hold this company has had on its customers.
It’s always been proud of the amount of loyalty it’s gotten from consumers and are constantly looking at the competition and incorporating new and exciting features that car owners look for. But how has this decision to pull out of the small car production game changed the company’s image?
In 2015, Ford was ranked second in overall brand loyalty after Subaru, with 67% of customers purchasing another vehicle as a replacement for their current model.
This year, J.D. Power ranked Ford fifth in the same category, with only 54% of customers sticking with the brand. Subaru stayed in first place over the years, but it’s clear Ford customers are drifting away toward other brands.
Customers still want small cars
While only a year has passed since Ford and GM stopped making sedans, research has already shown that it may not have been the best decision. 42% of Ford Focus owners are choosing to stick with a smaller car, as opposed to trading it in for a larger crossover or SUV, as was Ford’s hope. Instead, 31% of customers have simply switched brands in order to stick with the size car they prefer.
This could easily explain the disparity in Ford’s loyalty rank this year. If a customer still wants a car the size of a Focus, Taurus, or Fiesta, they’re going to turn to cars like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, or Subaru Legacy — all manufacturers who out-ranked Ford this year in customer loyalty and haven’t put all the company’s money into just trucks and SUVs — instead of switching to a larger vehicle. The bottom line is simply that plenty of people still want smaller cars, and they always will.
Was the decision worth it?
Since it’s stopped making sedans and small cars, Ford has re-focused its budget into trucks, SUVs, and electrification. It now has a lineup of seven crossovers and SUVs, and only two cars — the Fusion (for now) and the Mustang. The new crossover-sized all-electric Mustang Mach-E will be available in the spring of next year, and the all-electric F-150 will be here before we know it, as well.
It’s clear Ford is moving forward with what the company wanted its money to go toward. Of course, it’s too soon to tell if it will ultimately pay off. For now, though, customers are looking elsewhere for new vehicles in their preferred size. It seems as though Ford and GM have essentially handed a portion of sales directly to the competition.