Ford will be M.I.A. at New York
It might seem like the 2008 auto show season has been going on forever, but it is far from over. We have already had three major North American auto shows, and at least (depending how you count it) two major international shows. However, there is another big show coming up – the New York International Auto Show. Unlike Los Angeles which is still trying to settle in as a member of the “big shows” New York has been a stable member of this exclusive club consistently delivering numerous international and North American premieres.
For this single reason, it is surprising to find out that Ford has absolutely no introductions planned for this event this year. It is likely Mazda will introduce its Mazda6 sedan, and Volvo might introduce its XC60 crossover, but there will be no new model or announcement for Ford, Mercury, or Lincoln brands.
Ford has a busy launch season ahead of itself with all new MKS, F150, and Flex all going into production this summer alongside the somewhat changed Econoline Van and Escape. Beyond this summer, Ford is expected to redesign in trio of mid-sized sedans (Fusion, Milan, MKZ) and the Mustang for very early next year, but we have yet to see any of these models.
On the most positive note, this one-show gap might simply be a sign of change at Ford, who was recently notorious for twelve, even fifteen-month lead time between model introduction and on-sale date. For example the 2007 Edge was revealed in January 2006 in Detroit, but the car did not begin production until the following December. More recently, the 2009 Flex was introduced last March in New York, but is still not in production and will not be for another eight weeks. Long model rollouts are sometimes used to build up expectation and demand, but can backfire and render the new model stale even before it begins rolling off the assembly line. For this reason, most models are introduced only with a few weeks or few months of lead time. For example, the 2008 Accord was officially revealed in late August last year, and was on sale six weeks later. Similarly, the 2009 Nissan Murano was introduced in November and has been on sale for about two months already.
The redesigned 2010 Ford Fusion is expected to begin production in early December 2008, and since Ford will not show it in New York, it only has two other choices: either SEMA show in October, or Los Angeles in November. As a result, the Fusion’s subsequent launch will be significantly faster, and, that much more dynamic (hopefully). Despite this possibly positive effect of this one-show absence, this no-show at the show reflects poorly on the marketing planning (at the very least),and at the worst indicates issues with Ford’s pipeline.
Moreover, the competition is not standing still. Pontiac will introduce its new Solstice Targa, Scion is to introduce a concept of another new model, Acura will probably introduce the new TSX , and Suzuki is finishing its three-concept streak of a future mid-size offering.
While my New York-hating significant other would say something to the tune of “so what, New York sucks” or “New Yorkers do not even drive,” the simple truth is that the absence of introductions from Ford at one of the most important auto shows in the world is not good news. I hope that in the background there is some sort of an unseen benefit to this situation.
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