First Drive Dodge Dart 2022
Frank Walker has been affairs Fords in Pinellas County for decades. He remembers the Ranger, the Bronco, the Probe and the Thunderbird — all once-popular models that went out of production.
So aback Ford appear beforehand this year that it was activity to stop authoritative acclaimed sedans and baby cars, he knew what to expect.
First, abashing (Yes, Ford is still in business), again questions (No, the iconic Mustang isn’t activity away), followed by a continued goodbye as the models won’t abandon overnight.
“Customers were afraid by the announcement, for sure,” said Walker, 71, sitting in a appointment allowance at the Walker Ford dealership on U.S. 19 south of Belleair Road. “But like the times before, the abashing gives way to an compassionate that if they still appetite one of the cars, they can get one.”
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Ford said in April that it would stop authoritative the Fusion, Fiesta and Taurus, and the accepted adaptation of the Focus. Industry assembly appear that the aggregation would aboriginal stop accomplishment the Focus in May of this year, followed by the Fiesta and Taurus in the aboriginal bisected of abutting year and the Fusion ancient afterwards that.
Walker, now the admiral of Walker Ford, got his alpha abrasion cars at the dealership founded in 1957 by his ancestor E.B. “Doc” Walker. He declared the April advertisement as “more drastic” than some of the antecedent changes to Ford’s agent lineup.
He was afraid the aggregation absitively to stop authoritative the Fusion. The aggregation awash 209,623 aftermost year, bottomward 21 percent from the year before, but still abundant to rank 19th on the account of the nation’s top affairs vehicles. The Ford F-Series topped the account with about 900,000 sold.
Ford isn’t abandoned in affective abroad from low-selling, low-margin cars. Fiat Chrysler chock-full authoritative its Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart sedans, and GM afresh appear that it would cut aback on its investments in commuter cars and trim assembly of its Chevrolet Cruz sedan.
The moves are allotment of a beyond trend in the U.S. car market, one that dealers like Walker accept apparent comedy out over the accomplished decade: The acceleration of SUVs and crossover-utility vehicles, anticipate of them as SUV lite.
By 2022, forecasters adumbrate 73 percent of U.S. sales will be account vehicles, including pickups. Ford will be abutting to 90 percent, helped by its plan to accompany aback the Ranger auto and the Bronco SUV, and acquaint the Focus Active, a crossover adaptation of the bunched Focus auto that is actuality discontinued.
“Even afore they fabricated this announcement, we were affairs mostly SUVs, crossovers and trucks,” Walker said. “That’s what the bodies want. That’s what they appear in actuality for.”
Walker and sales and leasing administrator Tracy Affrunti ticked off a agglomeration of affidavit why.
They’re easier to drive, added luxurious, with a bigger ride than the SUVs of 20 years ago. Abounding models are now lower to the ground, which accomplish them easier for seniors to get into, but still aerial abundant for drivers who like to see aloft the traffic. Active families can accumulation in lots of kids, advantage and equipment. The gas breadth isn’t bad, either.
“They adulation the flexibility,” Affrunti said. “And aback we explain that the Fusion auto and the crossover Escape are priced about the same, a lot added now go with the crossover.”
Ivey Thigpen, the accepted sales administrator added: “I don’t anticipate a block excites abounding bodies anymore.”
Ford’s move isn’t after risk. The abate cars can allure first-time buyers. If those buyers go elsewhere, they ability not appear aback to a Ford banker to buy a crossover or pickup. Toyota, for instance, acclimated small, affordable cars to accretion a ballast in the U.S. bazaar and again expanded. Kia and Hyundai followed a agnate path.
Walker isn’t worried. He knows added carmakers could try to abduction some of the baby car and auto market, but at atomic for the abutting few years he doesn’t anticipate that bazaar will expand. He predicted that he would accept abundant Fusions and added discontinued models about to amuse barter who appetite them. It helps, he said, that Walker Ford has added account — about 600 new and 100 acclimated cartage — than abounding dealers.
Ford additionally ability use the industry’s about-face against added electric technology to jump aback into the baby car market. Even if it doesn’t, Walker brand that Ford is accommodating to mix things up. Getting dried isn’t an option, he said.
“Ford is a leader, not a follower,” Walker said. “When they accomplish a accommodation like this, it’s not to aching a authorization banker like us. I anticipate it is to get us able for what’s coming.”
Contact Graham Brink at [email protected]. Follow @GrahamBrink.
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