Sinking sedan sales prompted Ford in 2018 to focus exclusively on pickups, crossovers and SUVs, as former CEO Jim Hackett stressed a need to invest only in profitable nameplates.
The move initially angered customers and perplexed dealers who still sold plenty of Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Taurus models each year.
Zack Nakos, Maverick product marketing manager, told Automotive News that Ford intends to retain some of those customers.
"Many are at that point where their trade cycle is ending and they're coming back to the showroom," he said. "There will always be people who don't want a truck, but we feel there will be enough people who say, 'OK, price point, fuel economy, storage ... I didn't really know I needed a truck, but I need this one.' There are some car owners we think will readily adopt this."
The bed, another selling point that Ford engineer Keith Daugherty called a "DIY fan's paradise," comes with a number of tie-down points, including one that doubles as a bottle opener (a popular feature on the Bronco Sport). It also has slots stamped into the side so that owners can use 2x4 or 2x6 lumber to divide the storage areas or create their own bike racks.
There's an available 110-volt outlet and up to two optional storage cubbies on the sides of the bed. The tailgate can be positioned at a 45-degree angle to accommodate full sheets of plywood.
Ford also patented a mounting system that fits features such as cupholders or storage dividers into a rear seat slot. The automaker plans to publish the specs to let owners create and 3D-print their own solutions.
"Can Ford bring some Focus buyers back? Probably. Can they bring all of them back? Probably not, but I don't know that Ford expects that," said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at IHS Markit. "I think this is meant to be another alternative in the space. They knew in making this decision the risk is, you're not going to be able to satisfy a traditional compact sedan customer. It's a promising package, for sure."