PARIS – Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally said he wasn't signaling the demise or sale of any more brands when he told a group of analysts this week that Ford needs to further reduce the number of nameplates it offers.
Mulally said he merely intends to keep Ford on a path to creating product “families” that streamline product development.
Mulally told analysts he wants to get the number of Ford nameplates down to 25 or 30. Ford presently has 36 U.S. nameplates for its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands. Ford will discontinue Mercury by Dec. 31, eliminating four more nameplates – Milan, Grand Marquis, Mountaineer and Mariner.
When asked to clarify specifically where Ford would further reduce nameplates, Mulally said his comments were meant to keep the company on track to streamline product development.
“The comments I made were in respect to what we've done to fundamentally focus on the Ford brand and as we all know our biggest decision that we made initially was to focus on the Ford brand and we divested the other brands,” Mulally said at a press event here Wednesday.
Ford has sold Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston-Martin. It still owns Lincoln, but executives admit the brand needs an overhaul of product and branding. Ford wants to dramatically reduce the number of Lincoln dealerships it has in major metro markets and will require dealers to invest in facility upgrades and improved service if they are to go forward with the brand.
Mulally says his commitment to improving Lincoln remains -- as does a goal to continue to streamline Ford division product development and offerings.
“Four years ago, we had 97 different nameplates when we looked at all the different vehicles across all the different brands,” Mulally said. “So the second decision we made was that we're going to have a full family of vehicles – small, medium and large cars, crossovers and trucks.”
He lists vehicles such as the new Fiesta subcompact, Focus compact and F-series pickup as examples of vehicles that come in a “family” due to their different design and engine variants.
“We've made a lot of progress to fundamentally simplify the Ford brand, but we still have some room to go as we globalize the rest of the products. We'll be to where 80 percent of our lineup will be on the global platform,” Mulally said. “So the 25 to 30 is kind of in the range where we think over the next couple of years we'll have the entire Ford product line on global platforms, and we'll have a complete family that serves all the markets.”
Ford will still have a lot of variation off those platforms. For example, it will have 10 different body styles and vehicles off of the compact platform that the Focus sits on. The Focus - to be unveiled Thursday at the Paris auto show -- itself will have a four-door, five-door and sport versions for the United States, and a wagon version for Europe.
“So depending on how you count it, a product could have all the variations people want, but the fundamental core business is that we dramatically get the value of a simplified product line to serve all the markets of the world,” Mulally said.