Ford Redesigns New Models
By Igor Holas
In 2008, Ford released several new models, but none of them were clean-sheet redesigns. Among those, the 2008 Focus, 2008 Escape (and siblings) and 2008 Econoline received a fair amount of criticism for carryover elements, or lacking updates. Ford is getting ready to address that criticism in a costly 2009 re-do of the 2008 launches.
The 2008 launches represent the last vehicles approved and developed before Mark Fields took over Ford of Americas in late 2005. Fields has had some input on these models, but could not order major changes without delaying the introduction schedule. As a result, Fields chose a two-step release of the changes. The originally-planned models were released in 2008, and major flaws addressed in 2009 changes.
2009 Escape / Mariner / Tribute
Ford has already announced the changes for the 2009 Escape and its siblings. The biggest criticism of the 2008 model centered on the carry-over 2.3l four-cylinder, 3.0l six-cylinder, and four-speed transmissions. The 2009 model addresses all three of these complaints. The 2009 model will receive an all new 2.5l base engine, a redesigned 3.0l six-cylinder, and six-speed transmission throughout the lineup. Along with minor changes to the exhaust system, and front fascia, the powertrain changes will deliver more power, more torque, faster acceleration, and better mileage. Ford also planted the new four-cylinder engine in the Hybrid model, redesigned the brakes, added SYNC to the options list, and made other minor refinements.
2009 Super Duty
Another 2008 model that will receive post-launch changes is the new Super Duty truck. While there was no focused criticism for this model, Ford decided to change the product in the middle of the 2008 model year. The changes include redesigned, more aerodynamic, front fascia, and different standard axle gearing improving economy. Starting with the 2009 model, Ford is adding the new Ford Work Solutions, and SYNC options. There is also a possibility Ford will add a six speed transmission to the 2009 model for even better mileage.
The 2008 Focus was practically a full-on redesign, but the new model was criticized for some blatant omissions such as lacking rear headrests or stability control. While no official information has been released, Ford officials did mention more changes coming for the 2009 Focus. The rear headrests will be added as will be the stability program. Other changes are also possible, including optional engine, rear disc brakes, and even a sport model.
Finally, the 2008 Econoline launched with important changes to the frame and some new exterior styling, but with unchanged engines, and importantly, interior. Many observers saw the limited investment to this model as a sign of an approaching end. However, it seems the obituaries might have been premature. Ford took the Econoline back to the studio, and the big van will receive further changes to the suspension and brakes increasing its payload and most importantly it will receive an all-new interior. The new interior will follow the same theme Ford’s trucks have been using since the 2004 F150, and will be a very much welcome replacement for the outdated interior currently installed. This new interior will also allow the Econoline to use Ford’s new Ford Works Solution, New generation navigation, and SYNC systems.
The changes for the Focus and the Econoline have not been officially announced yet, so we will have to wait a little for the full detail, but it is nice to see Ford moving quickly with addressing weaknesses in its portfolio. Ford started this annual revision process with the Fusion, Explorer, and the Edge, and it seems they are staying true to their word and spreading this attention and investment to other models. We will see whether the changes will impact the perception and sales of the models.
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