Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett is channeling his inner Henry Ford to maximize profits on the next-generation Explorer: You can get any side-mirror color you'd like, as long as it's black.
The automaker is slashing the number of different mirrors, from 139 today to 25 on the 2020 model, by including blind-spot monitoring on every vehicle and using only gloss-black mirror caps instead of matching them to the exterior paint.
It's a small change but a telling example of how a rejuvenated Ford let itself fall out of shape after skirting bankruptcy — and the sort of bloat Hackett sees as a threat to Ford's "fitness."
Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of global operations, last week described Hackett's strategy as a "more fundamental redesign than any time I've been at the company."
At the same time, such streamlining is by no means a new concept for Ford, which made similar cost-cutting pronouncements under Alan Mulally a decade ago.
Mulally vowed to cut the number of ways vehicles could be configured by more than half on 2009 models to help turn inventory faster. The Lincoln LS sedan, available in 50,000 varieties, was replaced by the MKS, with just 300.
But within a few years, Ford had reverted to old habits amid a product blitz and a desire to generate extra revenue from more optional equipment.