Ford is gearing up for an onslaught of the crossover kind. With the 2016 Chicago Auto Show as its stage, the company’s vice president of marketing, sales, and service, Mark LaNeve, announced that four new SUVs are coming to market in the next four years.
These will be four new nameplates (not variants of the Escape, Edge, or Explorer) in segments where Ford “does not currently compete.” “Ford is a full-line manufacturer and we believe we should be competing in all the relevant segments,” said LaNeve.
Referencing low gas prices, Millennials’ aversion to large sedans, and the greater fuel efficiency of modern SUVs, Ford believes the time is ripe to inject new high-riding models that will still fit within CAFE targets.
So which segments might these new vehicle fit into?
“We don’t compete in the mini utility category,” noted LaNeve – which is another way of saying, “we will introduce a subcompact crossover to rival the Nissan Juke, Jeep Renegade, and Chevrolet Trax.” So it’s a fair bet that Ford’s global market EcoSport, based on the Fiesta, will make its way to the U.S. market.
LaNeve continued to bolster his case for more crossovers by referencing the diminishing interest in passenger cars over the past few years. In 2010, sedans held 52 percent of the U.S. market. Last year, they were just 41 percent. LaNeve pointed out that this trend evolved despite exceedingly high gas prices during that period. It’s not yet clear whether the introduction of four new SUVs will come with the removal of some of its other models, but it’s not out of the question.
As for the three remaining SUVs, a revived Bronco has been rumored for some time now, but LaNeve explicitly called attention to EVs. “There will be more electrified vehicles across all segments,” he said. Read in context, that likely means either a plug-in hybrid or full EV crossover in the playbook.
LaNeve also mentioned Ford’s recently announced $4.5 billion investment into electrified platforms, “so you can imagine there will be broad usage across all segments — cars, utilities, everything,” he said.
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