Ford Motor Co. may produce a new Scorpio built off the Mondeo platform in Europe in 2001.
The Mondeo is sold as the Ford Contour in the United States.
A final decision on the new Scorpio, a front-drive stretched Mondeo, awaits a last piece of market research, according to a highly placed Ford source in Germany.
The new car is significant because:
It will be positioned below the current Scorpio, meaning Ford will no longer use the Scorpio to try to compete with such luxury cars in Europe as the BMW 5 series.
Ford operations in Europe will retain development of the company's flagship model on the Continent. Ford's small- and medium-car development center in Cologne, Germany, is responsible for the Mondeo platform.
Shipment of a large luxury car from North America to Europe is losing favor, according to a Ford source.
FIT PRODUCTS, MARKETS
'The next generation Scorpio is going to be something that is designed to fit into the market segment we think is most viable in Europe,' said Bob Rewey, Ford group vice president of marketing and sales. 'It is just aligning products with where the market is going here and in Europe in terms of what the volume potentials are.
'The segment of the market the Scorpio is in right now has shrunk somewhat,' Rewey said.
He would not comment on what platform Ford is considering for the Scorpio successor. But two top-level Ford sources in Europe said the next Scorpio will almost certainly be a stretched Mondeo.
A stretched Mondeo makes sense because the market for the current Scorpio is declining. It competes against such cars as the Opel/Vauxhall Omega, Renault Safrane and Peugeot 605.
Sales of large cars like the Scorpio have declined as vehicles such as the Mondeo have become better equipped. Scorpio sales totaled 25,000 in 1996, down from 40,000 in 1995. In 1991, Ford sold 25,000 of the Scorpio's predecessor, the Granada, in the United Kingdom alone.
Moreover, the Scorpio is old and the design is widely criticized as being ugly. The current car sits on a platform introduced in 1985 and facelifted in 1994. A station wagon was added in 1993.
LARGER, MORE UPSCALE
The new Scorpio would be larger and more upscale than the current Mondeo, which is considered a family car in Europe.
A Ford insider said four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines would be carried over from the Mondeo and the Scorpio. Both vehicles received updated powerplants last year.
A new 3-liter six-cylinder engine that is being developed for the Ford Contour in the United States would be offered as the top-of-the-line powerplant.
Ford had originally planned to sell in Europe a large, luxury car developed in North America.
But a company source now says Ford is retreating from plans to sell in Europe an all-new rear-drive luxury car based on the upcoming DEW98 platform that the company's large-car center in Dearborn, Mich., is developing. Due in 1999, the DEW98 platform will spawn a new, smaller Jaguar and a new entry-level Lincoln.
The Ford insider said that strategy is under review because new luxury taxes and fuel taxes in Germany have eroded Europe's largest luxury car market for volume makes, such as Ford. Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi continue to prosper in the luxury segments.
There also is concern that a Lincoln- or Ford-badged luxury model would compete too closely with Jaguar, the source said.
The major force behind the reassessment of the European large-car strategy is Will Boddie, who has been chairman of Ford Werke AG, the German subsidiary, since August, the source said.