Ford is carrying out a product cadence that calls for change at three-, six-, nine- and 12-year markers, said the automaker's global product chief, Derrick Kuzak. Ford hasn't always made vehicle changes that often. The new direction is aimed at satisfying customer demands for fresh products and staying competitive with other automakers.
"At every one of those milestones, every one of our products, (we will make) a change that is marked and recognizable by the customer," Kuzak said during a presentation to analysts this month.
Ford has been criticized for introducing revised vehicles that looked much the same as outgoing models.
To speed up freshenings — and make more changes than in the past — Ford must "substantially improve our investment efficiency," Kuzak said.
Simplifying the way Ford develops and builds vehicles will help. "We are simply too complex," Kuzak said.
The automaker plans to cut the number of platforms, engine architectures and transmissions it uses globally. It also will reduce ordering complexity and the number of buildable combinations for its vehicles.
Ford's dealers have been pushing for more visible product changes at three-year intervals.
"The consumers are demanding new product, and this is such a product-driven business," said Charlie Gilchrist, a Texas dealer and chairman of the Ford National Dealer Council. "You have to have it. The one that has the product is going to win."
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