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Car Corner
Ford Needs To Get Off Its Ass

February 1, 2007
By Scott Lewis

Sorry for the choice of words in the title, but it is getting crazy in the car world (particularly for Ford and GM) and you would think they would actually do something about it. This month I want to take a minute (that's all the time I have to spare, I am far too busy on the computer side of things lately) and discuss a couple of Ford's cars from the Detroit Auto Show.

The Cars

Ford InteceptorThere are two cars that stand out from Ford. Some of them were in car magazines... yes, real paper magazines that are on the newsstand... at the same time they were unveiled at the auto show. Clearly Ford wants to make a big impact with these cars. What are they? They are the Ford Interceptor and the Lincoln MKR (Pronounced Mark-R).

I got the images I am using here from Car and Driver. I really like the bold MKR. It seems like they are taking a page from the Chrysler 300 book. And there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone has taken a page from the Ford Explorer book and now the Explorer is second rate.

These cars are daring statements. They are concept cars. What that means is that Ford will show them on the show circuit this year, gauge public response, do a cost analysis, design potential production versions, form a committee, etc., etc., etc.

Lincoln MKRThe interesting step here is the "design potential production version." This means they will have a designer redraw the cars as they can be built. That all glass roof in the MKR with the Lincoln emblem designed in will be removed, as will the cool fluid console that runs the entire length of the interior. A number of other things will change to meet production limitations. And here is where the car will become a watered down version of what you see here, at the show and and in magazines.

The public will show a lot of interest in the concept cars, but by the time they take all the excitement out of those concepts people won't care anymore.

What To Do

Ford InterceptorBuild them! I just don't get why they would go through the trouble of making sure the magazines could take pictures of these cars so far ahead of their debut at the show if they weren't serious about making them. These are bold, rear wheel drive sedans that Ford is desperately lacking. It will take at least three years to see these cars in showrooms.  Assuming you can recognize them.

If I was running Ford I would have gotten within a year of production before showing these cars. Then the reaction by the public to the show cars would tell me if I should stop production. Waiting for public reaction before starting production puts you so far behind you are not going to win over anyone's heart.

Imagine working on these designs in secret for two years. Then showing them at the Detroit Show in January as concept cars, knowing that you could have them in showrooms the following January. You then put the production car next to the show car at the New York show in April or the Los Angeles show in November/December time frame. That would be really cool. Keep doing this every year at the Detroit Auto Show. It can work.

Lincoln MKRThere is a saying that I really like. "No Guts, No Glory!" I am a bit of a risk taker in my area. I program first and ask questions second. It has gotten me far in my life. I would not have it any other way. If you are not willing to take risks then you deserve to come in last place.

Ford should rush these cars to production as fast as possible. Three years is too long to wait. Heck... Scion is dropping its xB and xA cars after only three years in production. They are doing this to show that they can keep their model line fresh. I am not saying only have a three year run, just get the car in the showroom within a year of the public debut. Have the guts... and get the glory.

Conclusion

Build them... and build them fast. These cars could be just the thing Ford needs to drive traffic back into its showrooms. Unfortunately they won't be in showrooms for years... if at all. What a shame.

Next month maybe I should pick on GM... again.

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