Designers and engineers are betting new video game-style graphics — including the ability to customize digital gauges to mimic the 1980s-era Fox Body — and performance upgrades including an electronic drift brake will spark a sales rebound by wooing younger customers who crave personalization. Expanding the pool of potential buyers will be key to the seventh-generation Mustang's continued relevance, officials say, as fans of the soon-to-be-discontinued Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger could be tough to win over.
"There's a segment of the pony car set that is extremely brand loyal and might have a bowtie tattoo somewhere on their body. We're probably not going to be able to convert them," Jim Owens, Mustang brand manager, told Automotive News. "This is a basis to grow and bring in a younger audience. We feel there's a segment of the population that really enjoys sports car performance but enjoys it differently than the current generation does."
Still, Karl Brauer, an analyst with ISeeCars.com, said Ford could get some Chevy or Dodge loyalists simply because they have nowhere else to go.
"Some people still want a V-8-powered, rear-wheel-drive, made-in-America sports car," Brauer said. "Ford's going to cash in on the evolution of that segment, even without really targeting younger buyers."