Not just sedans at stake in Ford's fitness regime


The company that put Americans in cars affirmed Wednesday that those vehicles are going the way of the Model T and it will focus ever more on trucks and SUVs. The remaining Ford auto portfolio will feature the Mustang and an all-new Focus Active crossover coming out next year, neither of which will be built at the Chicago plant.

It will enable the company to cut $25.5billion in costs by 2022, up from $14 billion in cuts it announced last fall.

One of North America's largest vehicle makers is shrinking its product line to save money and stay competitive in the auto market, company officials said.

Ford hasn't said exactly when the Taurus and other models will be phased out, but the company's statement says nearly 90% of its North America portfolio will be trucks, utilities, and commercial vehicles by 2020. The company now anticipates reaching an 8 percent profit margin by 2020, two years ahead of schedule. Concerning the latter model, this week's announcement also means that some the new versions of the Focus planned by Ford - the sedan, wagon and hatchbacks - may not be available to American consumers at all.

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In announcing the gutsy move, Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in addition to whacking the cars, at the same time the company plans to almost double its cost-cutting goal to $25.5 billion from the $14 billion he announced in October. Is it wise to cut its sedan offerings to just two and instead focus on trucks and SUVs?

Europe was the only other region where Ford was profitable - a $149-million pretax profit.

Ford is shifting its emphasis from traditional cars, shifting $7 billion of research from cars and putting it into SUVs and trucks. Up to five hybrid-electric SUVs as well as a hybrid Mustang are also projected to be on sale by the end of the decade, as new technologies increasingly break the link between a vehicle's size and performance and its efficiency.

Ford also says it will have 16 battery-electric vehicles on the market within the next four years. This will act as a buffer against rising gas prices as the vehicles get bigger, according to Hackett and Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets. The Ford Active as a beefy small vehicle that will have a higher profile like an SUV, but still be considered a auto.