With this week seeming to be Ford week on my blog, I want to cover the topic of the Ford Bronco. This vehicle is legendary in name and has been anticipated for years. But will uncontrollable circumstances cause us all to wait even longer? Hopefully not.
While the truck and SUV market is heating up, especially for older, iconic versions of those vehicles, the Bronco nameplate is one of the leading vehicles in that segment. Since Ford is putting all of their manufacturing into those types of vehicles, it is no surprise that they are bringing back the Bronco.
They have rumored this for a long time now, somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 years ago. I can understand how long it takes to produce a good product, which I’m sure Ford will make when the next, new generation Bronco is finally revealed, but I won’t lie. It really deflates anticipation and excitement for it when we have seen concepts and rumors for 6 years.
According to Ford, their timeline was to finally show the public the kicking pony in the spring of 2020. They have a website dedicated to this here. Of course now that the time has come, a worldwide pandemic just had to come about which could potentially ruin everything. I know Ford does not want another botched product release like the Explorer and they have put personnel in place to prevent that. Sadly, they couldn’t predict a global catastrophe that would ruin their long in the tooth official debut. Will they go through with the global launch? Only time will tell, but spring is over at 11:59 PM Friday, June 19, 2020. The clock is ticking.
Ford just cannot catch a break. Following up from my last blog, between the decision to make only trucks and SUVs, a worldwide pandemic, a damaged parts supplier factory, office member shake ups, the fifth and final issues that will be the focus (pun intended) of this blog is a lawsuit for an issue spanning almost 8 years. This is going to be a very rough 2020 for the big blue oval.
Ford was praised for not taking a government bailout during the 2009 recession. While that was a good thing, and I am supportive of that decision, I think it made them lean in product forecasting and ignorant in mechanical reliability. While they were trying to make good financial decisions, it blinded them to what was coming, which will ultimately end up costing them. The worst part is, you get what you pay for.
Starting in 2011, Ford released the third generation Focus, which lasted until 2018. However, the models made from 2012 to 2016 had a major issue with their transmissions which included shuddering, stuttering, weak acceleration, inability to start or randomly shutting down, among other things. I am the second owner of a 2012 Ford Focus and have personal experience with these issues. The issues started almost immediately after customers purchased the cars back in 2012 and after a number of years, it came out that Ford knew about the issue and was not exactly willing to correct it.
That has lead to a major lawsuit and where customers who have owned or currently own a Ford Focus from 2012 to 2016 have sued Ford for knowingly continued to sell a faulty product. The minimum amount Ford has to pay is $30 million and they have already paid $47 million to some Focus and Fiesta owners up until this point. $77 million dollars is a lot of money, but again, that is the least amount they must pay. When the dust settles, they could be on the hook for as much as $450 million according to some analysts. When it comes down to it, any Ford Focus owner past or present, that meet some pretty minimal criteria, can get at minimum, $20 from Ford. I’ll take a free tank of gas, thank you very much! Some may qualify to have their Focus or Fiesta bought back entirely, which is not cheap. It will be interesting to see what the amount will finally add up to when all is said and done.
That is a big black eye to Fords already hurting circumstances. As I outlined in the last blog, their focus on trucks is an all in bet that there is no going back on. When you look back on 2010, you would have thought they would have invested their money on a better functioning, critical mechanical component of the car. But, they probably didn’t want to spend the money trying to fix it and went years just hoping no legal action would be taken. They made bad parts and made bad decisions, and now they are paying for it. To add insult to injury, they don’t even make that vehicle anymore and yet it has become a pebble in the shoe of their move to trucks and SUV’s plan. Loosing all that money on a car that you no longer make is rough. However, Ford has always found freedom in their F-150, so let’s hope that doesn’t fail them this time around.
*Just to note this lawsuit is not just for the 2012-2016 Ford Focus. It also includes the 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta as well.
Last year Ford announced they would no longer be producing compact, small, mid-size, and large cars. They were changing their long term plan to only produce cross over, SUVs, and pickup trucks. Not long after that announcement, the electric Mach E Mustang was introduced, and that vehicle seems to be the kick off of a new large vehicle line up.
But, this plan might be in serious peril before it even gets started. Let’s break down a few elements that might make Ford’s plan very challenging. Many of these things can change quickly though, as they all are very recent themselves in some regard, so this is my opinion and speculation.
First, the world wide COVID-19 pandemic is absolutely destroying the global economy. Auto manufacturers are taking a beating and sales are almost non existent. With people out of work, it makes it hard to entice people to buy a shiny new expensive pickup truck.
Second, the factory that supplies parts for Ford, Ram, and Toyota trucks was recently damaged by a tornado. While this will hurt Ram and Toyota as well, it made most headlines as interrupting Ford’s production. Since Ford’s entire lineup is mostly large trucks and SUVs and the parts supplier that provides the transmissions for those vehicles is damaged, all the eggs are in one basket and about to break.
Third, oil prices are deep in the red in trading value. While that is great for consumers because prices at the pump are very low, this unfortunately isn’t the time to take advantage of it. A thirsty F-150 can be filled for cheap at the moment, but with all shelter in place guidelines and people out of work, it is unlikely that people are going to be wanting a vehicle that is expensive to fill up in the future.
Fourth; very recently Ford announced that they are wanting to achieve 10 percent profit margins, even through this current circumstances. They have placed Lisa Drake in charge to accomplish that goal. She was in charge of the 2004 launch of the 11th generation F-150. That particular skill is what they are desiring her to perform on because she is also tasked her with increasing awareness of new products being launched, something Ford has struggled with for the past few years. Most notable the newest Ford Explorer botched release.
The next blog will be about the fifth and final blow to the Ford fiasco that is brewing. But with all the issues mentioned above, Ford has put all their chips on the table. SUV’s and trucks that with gas prices low but a worldwide pandemic not facilitating using those vehicles, a damaged factory, and the need to produce and profit within all of these circumstances, it is going to be a tough year for the automotive industry in general but I think Ford will really be feeling a pinch. Although Ford has weathered a lot over the years, so I should stop being so negative. The American spirit will prevail.