Why Ford wants to be Toyota
The differences couldn't be more evident. Mark Fields announced that Ford Motor Company is renaming the Five Hundred with the old Taurus name at a Chicago Auto Show breakfast. Freestyle becomes Taurus X (for crossover - get it?) and Mercury Montego becomes Sable.
Makes it hard to avoid the cliche, "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." Ford figures the new old names will resonate better with customers who wonder why the company stopped building such a good rental car.
Five Hundred, Montego and Freestyle apparently had better name recognition in their first year on the market, 2005, when Ford sold nearly 220,000 of them. Last year, combined sales dropped 24 percent, to 165,100.
Later that morning, over in the next room, Toyota introduced its new-generation Highlander Hybrid crossover SUV. (See Motor Trend's video) U.S. sales chief Don Esmond noted that the company had sold more than 170,000 hybrids in 2006.
"Hybrid" is a generic name for the gas engine/electric motor power-plants that Toyota has pioneered in the last decade. It's a more successful name for Toyota than Five Hundred/Freestyle/Montego -- or whatever you call them -- is for Ford.
And the renamed, face-lifted Fords will have to do very well to catch Toyota and Lexus hybrids this year. The Japanese automaker expects to sell more than a quarter-million of 'em in '07.
But any success for the Fords ought not to be attributed to marketing. The three-bar grille facelift on the Taurus and Taurus X make them look sleeker than the dowdy Five Hundred and Freestyle. And the new 3.5-liter V-6 provides much needed extra power versus the old 3.0-liter. Also, Ford moved the engines off the front subframe mount, and farther back on the frame, allowing more freedom to tweak the front suspension.
To compete against crossovers like the Taurus X, Toyota offers its 2008 Highlander, due in showrooms in July (The hybrid version launches in September).
The Highlander is three inches wider and nearly four inches longer, with an extra inch of ground clearance and three inches of wheelbase compared to the 2003-07 model. It's better looking, too, like a bigger RAV4, and it gets a new, 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6.
It comes with a bevy of new standard safety equipment, including seven airbags. The '08 model is 300 to 400 pounds heavier than the old Highlander, and yet Toyota claims fuel economy will be virtually unchanged (If you count economy using today's EPA testing procedures. A new '08 test will seriously lower every car and truck's official estimated fuel economy.)
Consumers might have trouble remembering the names of Ford's sedans and crossovers, but they have no problem thinking about fuel economy, and equating "hybrid" with Toyota.
Posted by Todd Lassa, Motor Trend 4:37 PM 12 Comments | Add a Comment
Based on this I'm ;looking to trade in my 2002 Highlander (which I love) for the 2008 model first chance. No mo Ford's for me
Here's another one of those japanese-loving writers. Kills me - they love the US autoworkers at election time ( when they vote in locksteps for those mindless democrats ), then the lefty writers guild immediately starts poking fun at their work, and intelligence.
It's unclear that the two stories contained in this article have anything to do with one another. Does anyone but the author expect that Ford is trying compete directly with Lexus hybrids? What is the cost of the Highlander hybrid vs. a Taurus X? Why are we comparing Prius sales numbers with Montego/Five Hundred/Freestyle sales numbers? they aren't even remotely close to the same class of vehicle. Was this written by a child?
I wonder what Toyota is paying the writer.
Osama bin Laden would never own an Ford or any American car. He luvs his Land Cruisers and is very excited about Foreign/Axis car companies controlling the American car market.
Bonzai, America's future is owned by foreign corporation's.
What a lousy, rotten piece of writing. Todd Lassa goes out of his way to bash Ford in any way he can. What a stretch to try to equate the two topics in one article. Who edits this stuff? Granted, Toyota is a great car company who is doing a lot of things right. But the don't deserve special, prefered treatment. The foreign auto makers have raised the bar for the world wide automobile industry over the past 30 years. However; American manufactures make the best cars and trucks than they ever have and they represent the beast value in the marketplace. My 2006 Yukon XL gets 20MPG and caries my family of seven. They way I figure it, I get more miles per gallon per person that just about anything I could buy, and it was a bargain compared to anything foreign. I buy American cars and trucks for my family and my business. I won�t buy a Japanese car.
The only reason that American made cars have improved to their present level is that Toyoto showed the American car buyer that quality can be obtained for a reasonable price,and are tired of poor quality at an almost criminal price. The american automobile industry had no mind, no heart, no soul --they just did what ever they wanted to do, and now they are paying for it.
I agree, it appears that most of these auto writers can't wait for the American auto mfrs to go into the tank. I've seen plenty of dowdy looking Camrys & Lexus's. I just don't understand why the continual praise for the Japs.I'll buy American as long as they make'em.
I see that a few of the commentators are shooting the messanger. Go back to the literature. You guys shooting the messanger (the hapless journalist) will find your kindred spirits in the 1970s-1980s-1990s. You are a dying breed. Buy American... and don't forget your CEO is paying himself factor x above your fellow Americans working on the line. I no longer have sympathy for the American CEOs. They are blood suckers on the middle class. The American CEOs and purchasing managers have proven that they don't add value. The American consumer votes with his pocket book... not some liberal, bleeding heart journalist.
It's amazing that these Japanese car owners can continually bash Detroit for the '70s and '80s, yet so easily forget the 2,403 Americans killed during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I bet the Honda and Toyota owners out there can't wait until Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda start manufacturing automobiles.
Where's the trucks
Ford Motor Co. is doing the right things but they are still a long way off on price, warranties, and gas mileages. They must do the same as toyota in sizes of vehicles and all these areas be the same as toyota to turn it around. Also bring Jobs back to Ford plants insted of shutting plants down. Why is toyota adding jobs and Ford eliminating jobs? The answer has always been bad management and bad corporate decisions. The Ford workers have always known this. When you are in a business you must do what your competor does or lose you business because of your own ignorance. I'm a
retired Ford worker with 36 and one half years and we all have seen Ford's bad decisions over the years. It's unfornuate the workers get the blame for corporate ignorance.
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