Ford marketers say the company will protect the budget for its auto show presence in 2009 in hopes of making a big splash among the Detroit 3. Starting at the Detroit show, Ford will unveil one of its most important products of the year: the re-engineered and restyled 2010 Taurus large sedan.
The company also will discuss its electric-vehicle strategy for the coming decade and reveal the 2010 Mustang Shelby GT500.
Styling changes for the next-generation Taurus are expected be extensive. Ford's goal: Make the car lower and sleeker.
The Taurus remains on the same platform, but the updated version is based on improvements in the underpinnings developed for its 2009 Lincoln MKS sibling. The 2010 Taurus will go on sale this summer.
Ford is dropping the Mercury Sable sibling after the 2009 model.
Ford also will give some specifics about its electric-vehicle plan. In 2010, the company will launch an electric van aimed at commercial fleets. The vehicle will be a version of the Transit Connect, the smallest member of Ford's European Transit van family, company insiders say. A gasoline version of the Transit Connect will go on sale in the United States in 2009.
Ford will provide details about an electric sedan scheduled to go on sale in 2011. That car may be based on the Ford Focus compact sedan.
Finally, Ford will unveil the Shelby GT500. The high-performance Mustang will go on sale this spring at the same time as regular V-6 and GT models of the restyled, re-engineered pony car. Engineers improved the Shelby model in part by incorporating platform upgrades made for the 2008 Shelby GT500 KR model.
Ford says the changes for the 2010 Shelby mean the car handles better, is quieter and has an improved ride. The car is powered by a 5.4-liter V-8 producing 540 hp and 510 pounds-feet of torque.