Ford Motor Co. will drop its Mondeo midsize car in Europe and no replacement for the model is planned, the automaker said.
Production of the car at Ford's plant in Valencia, Spain, will end in March 2022, the company said on Thursday.
The move comes as customers have increasingly moved to SUV alternatives, a Ford spokesman said.
"The market segment in which the Mondeo competes has been dwindling for years and is down about 80 percent since 2000," the spokesman told Automotive News Europe.
The Mondeo was Europe's No. 4-selling midsize car last year, but its volume shrank by 48 percent to 21,053 units, according to figures from JATO Dynamics. The midsize segment as a whole declined by 29 percent to 297,863 units as changing market tastes and coronavirus lockdowns kept customers away.
The Mondeo has been sold as a hatchback, sedan and station wagon in Europe since 1993, with sales totaling around 5 million in the region since then, Ford said.
The car was a favorite with business drivers, particularly in the U.K., Ford's largest European market. In 1996, the British Labor Party used the phrase "Mondeo Man" to identify new self-made middle-class voters that it wanted to win over in an upcoming general election.
Ford of Europe President Stuart Rowley told Automotive News Europe in a recent interview that the company is prioritizing money-making segments so that the automaker's operations in the region are sustainably profitable.
"We see where customer demand is going," he said. "If you look at the segmentation now, small utility segments [SUVs] are growing. We want to put our capital in the growing parts of the market."
Ford said Feb. 17 it will sell only full-electric passenger cars in Europe by 2030. It plans to offer plug-in versions of every vehicle it sells by 2026 on the way to becoming an all-electric brand.
Ford said the Valencia factory will continue to build the Galaxy and S-Max minivans after production of the Mondeo is stopped. The plant also produces the Kuga compact SUV.
Ford also confirmed that it will invest an additional 5.2 million euros ($6.2 million) into the Valencia plant to support increased battery pack assembly capacity there following a 24 million euro investment announced in January 2020. Production of the 2.5-liter gasoline engine used in its hybrid Kuga, Galaxy and S-Max models will be moved to Valencia from Mexico in 2022, it said.
The Volkswagen Passat was Europe's top-selling midsize model last year, with sales down 7.4 percent to 115,763, according to JATO data. The Skoda Superb, at No. 2, saw sales fall 13 percent to 60,254. Sales of the Peugeot 508, the No. 3 seller, dropped by 48 percent to 28,741.
VW will keep only the Passat station wagon when a new generation of the midsize car is due toward the end of 2023 for markets such as Germany where the body style remains popular, sources familiar with the plans told Automotive News Europe in November.
The Passat sedan will be dropped in Europe and the U.S. as VW increases its focus on electric cars and SUVs, the sources said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The 2020 sales figures for midsize cars have been corrected.