Taurus name game
Ford announced today that it will revive the Taurus name and apply it to the 2008 version of the Ford Five Hundred and that the revised Mercury Montego will be renamed the Sable. The Ford Freestyle crossover, also freshened for 2008, will become the Ford Taurus X.
During a Chicago Auto Show interview, Ford's President of the Americas Mark Fields admitted Ford made a mistake ditching the Taurus name, which is recognized by 80 percent of consumers. Of the seven million Tauruses that were sold, more than 3.5 million are still on the road today.
Fields said it would take many years and millions of dollars to build new brand names to the level of the Taurus and Sable, with no guaranteed success. Still, there's no guaranteed success in reverting to the classic names either. Will consumers associate the new Taurus with the original trend-setting Taurus of the 1980s -- or will they remember the more recent Taurus, which Ford neglected to keep competitive in the marketplace?
Posted by Michelle Krebs, Edmunds AutoObserver.com 2:08 PM 13 Comments | Add a Comment
Ford needs to know that it's good cars that we want again, not "badge-engineering".
What will happen first at Ford, creativity and competitiveness or bankruptcy?
Shakespeare asked in Romeo and Juliet "What's in a name." And we might wonder the same in view of Ford's announcement that they will rename its Five Hundred to the old Taurus nameplate. The decision seems less than poetic, and appears as yet another in a line of curious turns made by the automaker in recent times. Critics of the Five Hundred point to the conservative design and underpowered engine. Uhm, excuse me, but that was some of the same criticism leveled at the old Taurus! Remember the expectations and excitement that Ford raised not too long ago with their Five Hundred concept car. It was long, low, and sleek, and reminded me of my father's '61 Fairlane 500. The Five Hundred was supposed to recall, we all thought, the nostalgia for that golden age of vehicles, but with a contemporary twist. What evolved was another design-by-committee model--solid, but vanilla flavored. People didn't fall in love with the Camry and Accord because they of the names. Romeo and Juliet figured that out.
The name change is a bunch of bull. If Ford had properly advertised and marketed the Five Hundred and Montego it would have been a much better seller. I drive a 2007 Five Hundred SEL AWD with CVT and do so NOT because of the name on the trunk but rather because of the car itself. We don't drive names, we drive cars!
Taurus was a dog when they discontinued its manufacture. How does changing the name improve the product? In name recognition alone Taurus cannot compete with Accord, Camry, and so forth. While Nero fiddles, Rome burns. Ford is heading for "out of business."
Just this week I rented a Mercury Montego for a extended drive into Canada. Interior features very well done and handled the -5 deg and snow conditons and still got 26 mpg, with 3 passengers and all our luggage. Quality is better than a name. Ford has a excellent car here. So Sable / Montego whats the difference? Both are Mercury names to me. Could have left it alone maybe? Look at all the horrible names used by small Asian companies - they sell on price and perceived quality. Many Ford (and GM products for that matter) are price and quality compaparible, but are not noticed because the $$$ loss headlines must equal a has been brand and poor quality. Best wishes to all Ford employees. This name change is not going to make a huge difference now, value, quality and reliability will.
Ford seems to be in the desperate situation, too little too late in the race...Just look at the new 500 series, from the brake light to the dual pipes, and the model name 500 SEL..does it remind you of some luxury european car! namely the Mer....
One thing come to my mind that Ford under estimate its customers...(that they are uneducated, uninformed consumer!) thinking that making its model to look like some expensive european car model will convince them that their car are better now. And hanging your future on some legacy name is step backward, IMO, so changing name will not help!
And by outsizing its competitor (weight and horsepower)does not make it better. They should have change their design/marketing philosophies two decates ago!
The renaming issuesis irrelevant in my mind. To be honest, I thought it was a good idea to move away from the Taurus/Sable/etc. name badges. Many people who recall these cars recall them as fodder for rental companies. With the exception of the SHO Taurus, the cars have been percieved as bland. Right now, Ford's biggest hurdle is that many consumers believe their autos are of an inferior build quality, and will become liabilities sooner than cars from the Asian companies. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. But Ford also needs to take chances. The popular PT Cruiser, Mini Cooper, and Scion xb's are unique and fun to drive and be seen in. Ford did right by the new Mustang design, but that innovation didn't extend to other models. Think outside the box, and work to ensure your product's reliability, and people will take notice.
Hey Ford and GM, your purchasing depts are killing you slowly. And your CEOS haven't figured that out since C.Lopez left GM and VW almost 10 years ago.
WOW, I thought that they were trying to stop being total idiots at Ford. Maybe they are marketing only to the over 50 crowd. As a 35 year old I could stomach driving a Ford 500 but I would never drive anything that had Taurus on it. Please Ford, get rid of your marketing firm and start designing exciting cars that are full of features, are well built and get great gas mileage. Redesignating dinosaur names to mediocre product lines will only lead to failure!
Stupid is running rampant at Ford. Design sells. Where is the new Ford Fairlane that was supposed to be in showrooms this year????
Ford marketing folks may want to give close scrutiny to GM's attempts at turning the Saturn brand around. I recently looked at the new Aura and was astounded at the value this package offers. Instead of purchasing a re-badged 500, I'll opt for getting more feature-laden bang for my buck.
I agree with the comment "What's in a name". Further more, Ford should of taken the Japanese route and TALKED to consumers and RESEARCHED what customers want. They didn't and now they are doing it all over again. Whoever decided that changing the name plates to Taurus and Sable must not of been thinking of them-the money holding consumer AGAIN! Way foward? I think not...
The CEO's at GM and Ford are not earning their pay. What are they thinking? No matter what they call their cars, the bottom line is Quality, Reliability.
On top of that, their cars cost more than a comparably sized Toyota or Lexus who have a reputation for Quality and reliablitity.
I used to buy only GM or Ford (I owned a '67 Mercury Cougar, a '73 Buick Centurion a '77 Ford Country Squire, a '79 Olds Cutlass.
But I tried a Honda for my then 18 year old son and since then never went back to American Brand Cars. Today, I dirve a Mercedes E320, my wife a Lexus LX470, my Sons a Toyota Rav4 and and Acura Integra. I also owned an '88 and a '91 Acura Legend, we never have any problem with any of these cars unlike with the Fords and GM's.
They ought to tie the CEO's pay with the performance of the company.
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