This feature was originally going to be about the Ford Fusion Sport with its powerful turbocharged V6 engine. Then Ford announced late last summer they were going to do away with the popular Fusion and the Fiesta, Focus and Taurus. Thankfully the Mustang stays in the model lineup as the company’s halo car.
The Fusion, Fiesta and Focus are really good cars, especially the Focus, speaking from personal experience. Fusions seem to be on the road everywhere you look, which tells you it’s been a good seller for Ford but not in numbers great enough that the company wants to keep it around for a complete refresh.
The Taurus was a groundbreaking automobile when it was introduced in 1986. But as time went on, Ford let it wither on the vine much like the current model, which is very outdated. Even fleet buyers like police and taxi companies shy away from it.
While Ford’s announcement shocked many in the automotive community, it was not surprising given that buyers continue to snap up SUVs and CUVs while gas is cheap. Who can blame them as these vehicles have features people want for everyday transportation.
One of the new models coming from Ford is the Focus Active which looks like a car but has a lot of CUV features.
Late last year, General Motors announced it was going to do away with some slow-selling models and close production plants in the process including the Oshawa assembly plant. The closure will stop production of the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala. Both nice cars but nobody is buying them.
The GM plant employs 2,500 unionized workers. Oshawa is the company’s Canadian headquarters and home to its technical centre, which works on chassis systems, alternative fuels and engineering support for vehicles. You can’t blame GM, they are merely reacting to what’s happening in the marketplace.
As for Chrysler, they were the first to announce in early 2018 that two models would be history – the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200. The powers that be at FCA have been directing financial and engineering resources to the vehicles that make the most money. That’s why Jeep added new models and replaced its old ones.
Meanwhile, looming on the horizon is a potential economic slowdown across North America. Cheap credit has allowed a lot of people get into new vehicles with loans stretching over seven years. I can’t imagine paying for a vehicle over such a long time with its value far less at the end of the term than its list price when it was picked up at the dealership.
Some economists are suggesting interest rates will rise and that could stop many people from pursuing new car loans. Those who are wise with their money will instead pay down personal debt. This is when a pre-owned vehicle becomes the smart option and those models being dropped by the big three now become good value on the used vehicle market.
No, not everybody wants a small crossover or smaller SUV. There is still a market for the mid-size or compact sedan. Japanese and Korean manufacturers will continue to supply to that market segment at least for the foreseeable future. They have also recognized there is still good sales to be made in the luxury car segment. Both Hyundai and Kia have brought out luxury sport sedans that are very competitive with cars produced by the German manufacturers.
It’s going to be an interesting year for the automotive industry. Whether the consumer will continue to enjoy cheap interest and gasoline remains to be seen. “All good things come to an end” as someone once said.
Read more of Garry Melnyk’s Auto Talk at https://www.stalberttoday.ca/auto-talk