DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.'s new strategy in the white-hot compact crossover segment? Divide and conquer.
Ford is hoping two distinct nameplates — the Escape and a future vehicle that's known for now as the Baby Bronco — will help it better compete with Toyota, Honda and Chevrolet in the industry's most competitive space.
The repositioning starts with the fourth-generation Escape, unveiled last week. Ford's second-best-selling nameplate in 2018, behind the F-series pickup, received a redesign for the 2020 model year, featuring new powertrains and a less boxy design meant to keep Ford car owners in the fold as Ford abandons sedans.
But the Escape, whose market share has fallen as competitors have added entries to the segment, is no longer meant to cater to all buyers. Ford is targeting younger, tech-savvy city dwellers with a ride that looks like a car or wagon, but has the capability of a utility.
For those who prefer a more rugged ride, Ford plans to introduce a still-unnamed, off-road-capable crossover next year. It's hoping the two-pronged approach will allow it to deliver vehicles that are more desirable to their respective segments than a single generic crossover that seeks to split the difference.
"The word we fear the most is the dreaded C word: being commoditized," Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's head of product development and purchasing, said at the Escape's reveal. "To really offset the tyranny of commoditization, we want to have a clearly differentiated point of view."