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Old 01-20-2006, 06:00 PM   #1
NYCshopper
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Default Ford to pursue new look for minivans

Ford to pursue new look for minivans

Quote:
DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co. <F.N>, which is gearing up to unveil its turnaround plan on Monday, is likely to announce a new direction for its sluggish minivan line-up, a person familiar with the automaker's product plan said on Friday.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker will move away from the traditional minivan look, characterized by sliding doors and a truck platform, and pursue a design similar to the Fairlane concept wagon that it revealed at the Detroit auto show last year, the person said.

The vehicle had three rows of seats, was based on a car platform, and looked more like a larger station wagon. The automaker called the Fairlane a "people mover."

Ford, facing a deepening financial crisis, will announce a comprehensive restructuring plan on Monday that will include plant closings and layoffs, as well as present its fourth-quarter earnings.

Ford spokesman Jon Harmon declined to comment on changes to the minivan line-up but said the restructuring plan is more than just a cost-cutting strategy.

Ford's minivans compete in a crowded segment led by DaimlerChrysler AG's <DCXGn.DE> <DCX.N> Chrysler Group. Sales of the Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey were down 23 percent and 53 percent respectively in 2005.

Ford has announced that two new vehicles the new Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossover will be built in the Oakville, Ontario, plant, which currently makes the Freestar and Monterey minivans.

The details of Ford's restructuring plan dubbed "Way Forward" have been subject of much speculation, but various media reports suggest the automaker is likely to cut about 25,000 jobs in North America. Also, analysts expect the automaker to close about five assembly plants.

Mark Fields, president of Ford's operations in the Americas who has been charged with drafting the strategy, said earlier this month that the automaker is eyeing all aspects of its business on both cost and revenue sides.

"We are scrutinizing every cost, looking at our competitiveness on a material cost basis, looking at our competitiveness on a fixed cost basis and aligning that with the demand," Fields said.

Fields said reining in excess capacity is very important for Ford going forward.

Ford utilized only 79 percent of its total North American production capacity in 2005, the lowest capacity utilization by any automaker, according to Harbour Consulting.

Ford ended 2005 with a market share of 17.4 percent, the lowest level since the late 1920s.


Copyright 2006 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Old 01-20-2006, 06:22 PM   #2
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When will FMC get away from those ivory/beige interiors? Otherwise, it looks a lot like a Land Rover, which is always a good thing, IMO.
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Old 01-20-2006, 07:00 PM   #3
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yeah not a bad looking thing. pretty retro. you never know what will take off these days
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Old 01-20-2006, 09:13 PM   #4
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not bad looking, would great wearing a V10 and AWD
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Old 01-23-2006, 06:17 PM   #5
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um...isn't this just a Ford Freestyle in a different wrapper?
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Old 01-23-2006, 08:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quentinberg007
When will FMC get away from those ivory/beige interiors? Otherwise, it looks a lot like a Land Rover, which is always a good thing, IMO.
Agreed about the interior comment - while their interiors actually look pretty upscale, some people, like me, hate light-colored interiors.
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Old 01-23-2006, 09:39 PM   #7
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Very Range Rover...
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Old 01-23-2006, 11:13 PM   #8
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I saw this in person over the weekend. As far as minivans go, this is asthetically the nicest one. (I don't know much about the drivetrain, powerplant, interior features, etc.)

~~Quentin
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Old 01-25-2006, 06:08 PM   #9
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It's ugly but, what could you do?
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Old 01-26-2006, 10:30 AM   #10
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i work on a ford lot. its been know for sometime that ford is going to stop making the freestar (minivan).....mainly because they hold a very small % of the market, leaders are Chrysler, Toyota, Honda. i don't really have any specific info on the fairlane other than it is a "concept."
the edge is coming out....'07. and that vehicle is for all practical purposes a utility-like fusion (mazda 6 platform)....it will offer 3.5 (250hp 240torque), AWD (may not be in the introduction but down the road), navigation.........it kinda is the same market as the tribeca
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Old 01-26-2006, 12:10 PM   #11
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Looks a hell of a lot better than a regular mini-van.
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Old 01-26-2006, 12:12 PM   #12
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they really should bring over the Ford S-Max from Europe when they start production...

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Old 01-26-2006, 12:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCshopper
they really should bring over the Ford S-Max from Europe when they start production...

True dat... but in Ford's infinite 'wisdom', they will wait another 3 years and then finally bring out a minivan based on some Mazda platform that is showing it's age - and then wonder by their semi-new minivan based on last-gen technology isn't selling versus the brand new minivans from Chrysler and Honda.
Kind of like how Mazda has a brand new small car (the 3), yet Ford is still making due with the old Mazda 3 platform.

And in a final touch of corporate American brilliance, they will turn around and put all the blame on the people making the cars and have massive layoffs and not blame the people that made the piss poor decisions to begin with.
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Old 01-26-2006, 02:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derbagger
um...isn't this just a Ford Freestyle in a different wrapper?
Seems very similar, yes, and no more likely to sell well.
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