SEARCH BLOG: AUTOMOBILE
The Detroit News writes that Ford Motor Company's restructuring is ahead of schedule. CEO Alan Mulally is quoted as saying:
Mulally has outlined a plan in recent weeks to merge several regional Ford divisions around the world into a single, global Blue Oval brand, according to interviews with Ford executives this week.
On Friday, Mulally hinted at his frustration at finding the Ford brand was actually six or seven different brands scattered around the world -- each with its own product lineup. He pointed to Ford of Europe's new Mondeo sedan, which was recently featured in the James Bond movie, "Casino Royale."
"Why aren't we driving that here?" he asked. "Hello! It's a great car."
Mr. Mulally is a sharp businessman, but he is new to the auto business. So I will offer two words for him: "Merkur" and "Contour".The idea of using European designs and platforms in the U.S. is not new. Some European designs are quite fascinating. The European Focus is one of them. The trick is to really understand the differences in U.S. and European markets and then make sure that the "Americanization" of European cars doesn't result in a product that doesn't fit or excite. The Merkur was a "luxury" brand in Europe, but offered little more than an expensive upgrade to the Taurus. The Contour was an Americanization of the Mondeo that looked like a squeezed down Taurus or a bloated Escort. It was marketed as a family car, but was too small for American dimensions. It was a competent and unexciting misfit.
Let's hope that the consolidation of brands is done more intelligently this time.