Ford Motor Co.'s North American product planners can thank their colleagues worldwide for the many new vehicles coming in the next several years.
Two platforms originating in Europe and Japan will underpin as many as 16 new or redesigned sedans, sport wagons and minivans.
North American engineers are adapting the platforms to suit U.S. tastes. The Mazda6-derived CD3 mid-sized platform will carry up to 10 new Ford, Mercury and Lincoln vehicles.
Volvo's modified P2 platform, called D3 by Ford in North America, will support at least four new Ford and Mercury vehicles, plus two possible Lincolns.
Here are the North American vehicles Ford is planning for the 2005 through 2008 model years, compiled from supplier and company sources.
|Mustang redesigned||Fusion mid-sized sedan debuts||Mid-sized sport wagon debuts||Focus re-engineered|
|Five Hundred sedan debuts||Crown Victoria freshened||Explorer Sport Trac redesigned||Five Hundred freshened|
|Focus reskinned||Explorer re-engineered (or 2007)||Expedition redesigned||Freestyle freshened|
|Freestyle sport wagon debuts||Ranger freshened||F-series Super Duty redesigned||Possible Crown Victoria replacement|
|Escape re-engineered||Possible Cobra sports car|
|F-series Super Duty re-engineered|
|Montego sedan debuts||Mid-sized sedan debuts||Mid-sized sport wagon debuts|
|Mariner sport wagon debuts||Grand Marquis freshened||Possible Grand Marquis replacement|
|Mountaineer re-engineered (or 2007)|
|Mid-sized Zephyr sedan debuts (or 2007)||Aviator redesigned||Possible LS replacement|
|Mark LT pickup debuts||Navigator redesigned|
|Town Car freshened|
Ford Division dealers want a small vehicle aimed at the youth market priced below the Focus. So do Ford Division executives. Phil Martens, the automaker's top product development executive, said a decision would be made this year. No timetable was given for production.
If approved, the low-priced car likely would be developed using a new subcompact platform dubbed B2E from Mazda. A likely model would be a front-drive wagon.
For the 2005 model year, Ford reskinned the Focus exterior, revamped the interior and added a 136-hp, 2.0-liter engine. Sales began this year.
Ford will re-engineer the Focus C170 platform for the 2008 model year rather than use the new C1 platform that carries the European Focus this year.
Ford executives have said the added expense of Europe's C1 platform would be difficult to recoup on a small, low-priced car sold in North America. Some suppliers also say that Ford is reluctant to risk the quality gaffes that arose when the original European Focus was adapted for North America.
The 2006 Fusion, due next year, will fit between the Five Hundred and Focus when the Taurus is retired. The division's new three-bar grille is visible behind the camouflage. The inset is a company sketch of the car.
The 2006 Lincoln Zephyr, priced at about $30,000, will be the brand's lowest-priced vehicle.
They are the first North American vehicles based on what Ford is calling its CD3 platform, which will be used for up to 10 vehicles this decade. The three mid-sized sedans are smaller than the new D3-based Ford Five Hundred sedan that debuts this fall.
The CD3-based Ford sedan will be named the Fusion. A gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Ford Fusion is expected for the 2008 model year.
Ford has said all three CD3-based sedans will be assembled in Hermosillo, Mexico, and will debut in late summer 2005. But Ford may produce the Lincoln version, called the Zephyr, at its Atlanta assembly plant in early 2006, one source says, which could change the timing for the Zephyr.
The Zephyr concept, shown at the New York auto show in April, will be Lincoln's entry-level car starting at about $30,000. All-wheel drive will be added as an option some time after the launch.
The car will feature a six-speed automatic transmission and Ford's re-engineered 3.0-liter V-6 engine. A 3.5-liter V-6 under development will be available later in the vehicle's cycle. But a V-8 will not be offered.
The Ford and Mercury models will share engines and transmissions, including four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines. Styling and suspension tuning will separate the Zephyr from the other models. About 35 percent of the Lincoln's exterior sheet metal will be shared with its lower-priced sister cars. But the Zephyr will have its own interior.
With the CD3 cars under development, plus the debut this fall of the Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego sedans, the Taurus and Sable are also-rans. Taurus sales, which are about 60 percent fleet, will shift even more to fleet as the sedans finish their production runs.
But the end date is unclear.
Several suppliers are expecting the Taurus and Sable to extend through the 2007 model year. But Ford is studying a plan for its Atlanta assembly plant that has Taurus and Sable ending in late summer 2005, a source close to the project says. That means the 2005 model could be the last. Mercury is dropping the wagon version of the Sable this summer. Ford is dropping the wagon version of the Taurus early next year.
The 2005 Five Hundred, which arrives this fall, will be larger and more refined than the Taurus.
The 2005 Mercury Montego is almost a twin of the Ford Five Hundred.
Awd will be available. The awd sedans feature Ford's first continuously variable transmission, or CVT, in North America. The CVT was developed in a joint venture with German supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG. Ford will assemble the transmission.
The fwd sedans will feature the CVT or a six-speed automatic transmission sourced from Japanese supplier Aisin AW. Both transmissions will be paired with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine.
A 3.5-liter V-6 under development at Ford will be added for the 2008 model year.
Pricing has not been announced, but the Five Hundred is expected to start at about $23,000. The cars feature a roomy cabin and a seating position that is a few inches higher than a conventional sedan.
Planning for an early freshening of the Five Hundred is under way. It is scheduled for January 2007 as an early 2008 model. Ford is updating the front-end styling to reflect the three-bar grille being adopted as the face of Ford. That look was featured on the Ford 427 concept that debuted at the Detroit auto show in 2003.
The Ford Fusion coming out of Hermosillo, Mexico, next year will be the first Ford car to get this look. The front-end design of the Five Hundred was locked in before Ford decided to go with that look across the lineup.
Ford's aging rear-drive cars will be freshened for the 2006 model year. Ford will add an optional fire-suppression system to its Interceptor police car.
The cars' Panther platform dates to 1978, and Ford is working on a long-term strategy to replace it.
Ford may replace the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis as early as the 2008 model year with cars built on the rwd platform used in Australia for the Falcon, suppliers say. Ford would use the next generation of the Falcon platform, dubbed EA2. The new vehicles would be smaller than the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis.
A Ford source acknowledged the study but said it wasn't a "serious consideration" right now. Ford would have to lock this into the product cycle soon in order to replace the cars for the 2008 model year.
The 2005 Mustang features design cues from the 1960s.
The coupe debuts first, followed by a convertible in early 2005. An SVT Cobra version is planned for the 2006 model year.
Ford keeps changing the end date of the Thunderbird.
First, the decision was to kill it after the 2005 model year. Then the car was expected to run through the 2007 model year. The latest word from a letter that Ford sent to suppliers this spring is that Thunderbird production will end in April 2006.
Ford says it will market special editions of the car until its death. It has left the door open to bring back another product with the Thunderbird name eventually.
The 500-hp, two-seat, midengine GT supercar will go on sale this summer as a 2005 model at a sticker price starting at $139,995. Early GTs allotted to some dealers are selling for tens of thousands more than sticker.
The GT will run through the 2006 model year with about 1,500 cars produced each year. The production run ends after two years because the GT won't meet regulatory requirements after the 2006 model year.
The two-passenger Cobra could debut as soon as the 2007 model year.
Ford showed a Shelby Cobra roadster concept, partially based on the GT's mechanicals, at the 2004 Detroit auto show. Product development chief Phil Martens sent it back to the design shop for a retool.
Now Ford is ready to display a coupe concept at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in California in August.
Ford is planning two new sedans for Lincoln on the fwd/awd D3 platform used by the Five Hundred and Montego. That platform is derived from the Volvo P2 platform. The Lincoln vehicles, code-named D385 and E386, are slated for Ford's Atlanta assembly plant, suppliers say. The vehicles are close to final approvals from Ford.
Suppliers expect one car to be a mid-sized LS replacement that would launch in late 2007 as a 2008 model.
The other, a larger sedan often mentioned as the "Lincoln flagship" car, could follow in early 2008 as a 2009 model. If approved, it would be built on a stretched version of the D3 platform.
Under this plan, Lincoln would retreat from rwd for its car lineup even as other luxury makes and some mainstream players are returning to rwd. That being said, the Town Car, based on the aging Panther platform, might continue. The company is pondering the long-term fate of the Panther platform.
Meanwhile, Lincoln will freshen the Town Car for the 2006 model year.
Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner
The re-engineered 2005 Escape went on sale in late January.
The Escape Hybrid heads to dealerships in early fall starting at $26,970 including transportation. That is $3,300 more than a comparable V-6-powered conventional Escape.
The 2005 Mercury Mariner, a version of the Escape, goes on sale this fall. A hybrid version of the Mariner is planned for the 2007 model year.
The 2005 Freestyle sport wagon, coming this fall, will have three rows of seats.
The Freestyle is powered by Ford's re-engineered 3.0-liter V-6 mated only with a new CVT developed with ZF Friedrichshafen AG.
Like the Five Hundred, the Freestyle also is slated for a freshening in January 2007. The 2008 Freestyle will get new front-end styling with what will be Ford's signature three-bar grille. Suppliers expect the Freestyle to offer the 3.5-liter V-6 at that time.
Mercury will get a version of the Freestyle. That vehicle is expected to launch in January 2007 as an early 2008 model.
The 2006 Lincoln Aviator, on the Mazda6 platform, is due next year. A concept is shown.
The Ford model's styling is expected to be edgier than that of the Ford Freestyle.
The Aviator will compete with luxury sport wagons such as the Lexus RX 330. Today's Explorer-based Aviator isn't a direct comparison to those car-based wagons. The 2007 Aviator will mark the debut of the automaker's 3.5-liter V-6 engine and the six-speed automatic transmission being developed jointly by Ford and General Motors.
Suppliers expect today's truck-based Aviator to end after the 2005 model year. But Ford could stretch carryover Aviator production into the 2006 model to shorten the gap between the current-generation and next-generation Aviators.
Ford is re-engineering the Explorer and the Mountaineer for the 2006 model year, suppliers say. The trucks also get new grilles and new front and rear styling. The programs possibly could be pushed into early 2006 and become early 2007s.
Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Ford is redesigning the Sport Trac for the 2007 model year. The truck will be developed on the re-engineered platform planned for the Explorer and Mountaineer.
For the 2005 model year, the Expedition and Navigator receive a three-valve per cylinder, 5.4-liter V-8 engine producing 300 hp. The Navigator gets a new six-speed automatic transmission.
Ford is redesigning the Expedition and Navigator for the 2007 model year, shifting both vehicles to its new T1 platform. That platform will be shared with the next-generation
F-150 pickup. The 2007 models could mark the introduction of Ford's 6.2-liter Hurricane V-8 engine. Suppliers say Ford is pushing to develop that engine by then, but it may not be ready.
Ford also will add an extended version of the Expedition and probably of the Navigator during the 2007 model year. They will compete against the Chevrolet Suburban and Cadillac Escalade ESV. The extended Navigator program is not locked in, a Ford source said.
The 2005 Excursion will get a new Super Duty-style grille.
The aging Ranger pickup will be freshened for the 2006 model year. After canceling two previous redesigns, Ford is contemplating a 2010 redesign for the small pickup.
Cost is the major issue, as sales in the small pickup segment are declining. Ford has long paid for the Ranger's last major redesign in 1993, and executives are wary of spending a significant sum in a segment with low margins.
When the Ranger is redesigned, a crew cab version likely will be added.
The 2005 F-series Super Duty gets a new grille, stronger frame and more horsepower.
The automaker will introduce the next-generation SVT F-150 Lightning pickup during the 2006 model year.
Meanwhile, Ford engineers continue to trim costs from the F-150, which was redesigned for 2004. A re-engineering is planned for the 2009 model year as Ford consolidates the Expedition, Navigator and F-150 onto the T1 platform.
T1 is a new platform designation, but its roots are in the 2004 F-150.
The Hurricane V-8 engine is expected to migrate to the F series, although the timing is not clear. Ford also is developing a six-cylinder diesel engine for the F-150 for introduction late in this decade.
The Blackwood pickup flopped, but Lincoln will try again with a 2006-model pickup, above.
Lincoln won't repeat these mistakes. The 2006 Lincoln Mark LT will be based on the F-150 and have much of its capability. It will be aimed at the Cadillac Escalade EXT customer. Mark LT production will begin early next year at the new Dearborn, Mich., truck plant at Ford's Rouge complex.
Ford F-Series Super Duty
The re-engineered 2005 F-series Super Duty pickups feature more powerful gasoline-powered engines, stronger frames, bigger brakes, more towing capacity and improved payload capacity. The Super Duty line will be redesigned for the 2007 model year.
The 15-seat passenger van, criticized by safety advocates as prone to roll over, gets electronic stability control for the 2006 model year.
There is no redesign slated for the long term. Ford may drop the E-150 platform this decade. It probably still would produce an E-150-designated van using the underpinnings of the E-250.
Automotive News Product Editor Rick Kranz contributed to this report