Last post on Aug 22, 2008 at 10:00 PM
You are in the Ford Taurus/Mercury Sable
What is this discussion about?
Ford Five Hundred, Ford Taurus, Mercury Sable, Future Vehicle, Sedan, Wagon
#68 of 530 Taurus Rising II
Feb 10, 2007 (8:01 pm)
"If you deliver only what the customer wants at the moment, somebody else is going to blow you away with something that goes beyond your product, or service, in quality, or innovation..."
Don Petersen recounted in his memoirs about the original Taurus program that took six years to develop---and the 1983 T-Bird was a by-product of that program. Petersen left his "team" headed by Louis Veraldi alone from start to finish, working with Jack Telnack to create the Taurus. They managed to incorporate more than 400 desirable features into the Taurus in order to compete against the competition. They set the stage for the marketplace when the car was introduced. A unique Ford Motor product that you could not buy anywhere else. Plus Taurus had its own unique "signature" styling which the public responded to for many years.
This is precisely what Ford Motor must return to. Unique styling, evoqative yes, but a 'Blue Oval' brand of motorcars, and not bland copies of everybody else. That is why BMW and Porsche are so successful today, because they never swerved from the unique product-line and have kept several generations of loyal customers as a result.
Mr. Mulally used the Taurus program as an example at Boeing to save that firm from disaster. Boeing regained its sales leadership against Air-Bus as a result---the Air-Bus Chief Christian Strief having resigned over production delays of the big 550 seat jumbo jet and is now sadly "running" Peugot. A fate that did not befall Boeing, Mr. Mulally also going so far as to use production techniques from Willow-Run applied to Boeing for manufacture.
No, the public won't be fooled by a rebadging of the 500. But the "500" meant nothing to anyone. People forget that the last time Ford used that name was when it was coupled with the bottom line 'Custom-500' in the 1960's! A car that Jack Webb used in the TV show 'Dragnet' of the same era. Prior to that it had also been the moniker of the 'Galaxie-500' which was once a higher end Ford. So the re-use of the Taurus name, still so resonant with the buyers is a good move. I have not met one person who thought killing the Taurus was a good idea---if anything they were angry about it---driving them to the competition.
The car is OK, but needs a motor with another 75Bhp at least to give it some "get-up-and-go". Who wants to drive an underpowered car that can't get out of its own way? Why else did they rebadge the Zephry into the Z when they changed the motor? It would take less than six months for Ford Motor to up-rate the engine. If the engineers are not now testing such are car, they should do what Rudolf Uhlenhaut did in 1968 at Daimler-Benz when he encountered numheadedness in the front office with respect to performance: he secretly stuffed a W100 6.3 Mercedes-Benz V8 "600" motor into the smaller W109 bodyshell, locked the hood, and handed the keys over to his unsuspecting boss for his week-end test-drive. That's how the legendary 300SEL 6.3 got born! (It's also how the Cobra, and Shelby Mustang's came about---stuffing a lot of BHP under the hood!!)
This is what Ford Motor engineers need to do today. Take the pieces from the shelf and build some cars with gusto, then ask for foregiveness later.
...and my dear "ARMSMEN"* on the 14th floor of the Glass House: Please STOP, repeat S-T-O-P, copying the old Mercedes monikers "SEL" that you have glued onto Ford Motor products. Nothing makes me scream out loud: "COWARDS" faster than when I see that on the back of a Ford Motor product. Ford does its best when their products are unique, when they act independently with verve and gusto. They did it time and time again between 1946-1969, and rarely after that, with a few hits every-now-and-then.
So Ford can still win, but they need to be twice as good as the competition, unique and independent of everyone else. That is what made the Taurus a success, and that was the rubric that Mr. Petersen gave to the rank and file back in 1980 when he took over from Henry Ford II.
It was good advice then, and it still stands. Mr. Mulally, are you listening?
* "ARMSMEN": CEO of Ford Motor: Alan R. Mulally, aka A.R.M., his "troops" thus should be called "ARMSMEN"---just as Earnest Breech brought in the "Whiz Kins" in 1945 at the behest of HF II. ...and "ARMING" them with thought and vision.
(sources: 'A Better Idea' Donald E. Petersen, Houghton-Mifflin, NY, 1991; 'Mercedes-Benz V8s' F. Wilson McComb, Motorbooks International 1980)
#69 of 530 Re: The part that makes no sense... [crutnacker]
Feb 10, 2007 (8:29 pm)
The "Fusion challenge" might be a step forward, but to me it's dishonest. They compare FWD Camrys and Accords with AWD Fusions. Of COURSE they'll stick to the road better. Why not apples to apples? Hmmm? FWD Fusions would fare how against their direct competition? I understand that it is a plus that one can pay extra for AWD, however one could pay extra for a hybrid Camry or Accord as well. Would it be fair for Toyota to compare gas mileage of the hybrid Camry to a non-hybrid Fusion? ANd bury the word hybrid in the noise as Ford buries the term AWD in their commercial?
#70 of 530 Re: The part that makes no sense... [heyjewel]
Feb 10, 2007 (8:52 pm)
The hybrid Fusion will finally be released this fall. I can't fault Ford for ballyhooing the AWD Fusion. After all, Camry and Accord don't offer a similar version.
Even if 500 sales fall (like so many of Ford's re-do's lately), they would have fallen further without the Taurus name. Taurus means something, good or bad, to millions of potential customers. 500 means nothing. Zip. It was a halfway decent car in a field of cars overshadowing it.
Ford needs to grasp all straws right now, as well as deliver real goods as soon as they can. That's why I, primo Ford critic, am practically wetting my pants that they are preserving the Taurus name. Such a rational decision that costs them nothing, and will have a payoff within a range from nothing, to something small but significant. Who of us semi-sane could have hoped any longer that anyone in the glass house would do anything rational, and quickly?
#71 of 530 Re: The part that makes no sense... [gregg_vw]
Feb 10, 2007 (9:35 pm)
Hybrid Fusion will be a great addition to the field. THAT will be a step in the right direction. Of course, since it uses Toyota technology, Ford wont be able to sell many of them because of Toyota's being in first position for parts and supplies etc. Toyota will make sure Ford has enuf to sell a few hybrid Fusions but that'll be it. It's in Toyota's interest for Ford to soldier along. For Toyota to ruthlessly drive Ford out of business would be a bad PR trip on them. They don't want that.
Once again, I gotta disagree, first just with opinion - it is my opinion the name means squat. Some folks remember Taurus fondly, some remember it as a rental car and others as a POS that they had to fix or repair daily. The only Taurus owner I've known is in the last category. Any extra 500s they sell will be because of the engine. No matter what you say to the contrary, it will be MY belief that since they FINALLY addressed the cars' major shortcoming that THAT is why people are buying the car, NOT because it has a familiar name on it. And neother of us wil be able to prove the other wrong, so let's let it lie.
And I gotta disagree on substance - the name change costs them money. Not a ton, but some. They gotta throw away all the old badges, order new ones right? Plus the marketing folks can have a field day with new brochures and pictures to play with, they're the big winners. Job security.
I've heard they're going to rename the Focus to the Pinto or Escort? What say you to that? And I read one blogger who suggested they take the final step and rename the company to "Titanic Motors".
I too am semi-sane and I think this decision is crap. They would have been far better off to market the cars intelligently AND spend some develoment money to fix the horrble brakes on the Edge. THAT would have been good PR. This name change is smoke and mirrors. In other words - business as usual for Ford.
#72 of 530 Re: The part that makes no sense... [heyjewel]
Feb 10, 2007 (10:12 pm)
Oh, geez, go to bed! Pinto or Escort names have nothing on Focus. The 2000 Focus was so much better than Escort that it buried it. And the European continues that excellence even if the American version no longer does.
But 500 is POS name that mever should have seen the light of day. A few people bought it this half-baked product, but not enough to get it on the radar screen. At least with Taurus "some folks remember it fondly, some remember it as a rental car and others as a POS that they had to fix or repair daily." But they remember it. Nobody but a few owners remember the 500, so why not change the name at the same time they address the shortcomings?
The few cents the badges are going to cost will not justify sticking with a dumb name that has no associations at all, good or bad. More than 80 percent of consumers recognize Taurus as a Ford product, compared to about 9 percent for the Five Hundred, according to research by Art Spinella of CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, OR.
They can't fix the horrible brakes nearly as cheap as doing this. Yes, you and I both hate the Edge, and wish it had been more cutting "edge." Ain't gonna happen overnight, and that is too bad. A name change, however, can happen overnight, even with a bankrupt company. Your well taken objections to Ford's decision making of the last many years should not prevent them from straw-grasping in every darn place they can possibly do it.
The only wsy they will get back to addressing all the things you decry is by first, not hesitating to do anything at all that is cheap, a change, and unlikely to hurt the bottom line. Any pennies they make with these straws can go in the kitty toward doing the real things...and of course a name change doesn't make that grade. But if the choice is between a 2008 unknown 500 with the improvements that it should have had in 2005, or a 2008 Taurus that ain't half bad, well, Ford would be remiss to retain the stupid 500 name.
#73 of 530 Re: The part that makes no sense... [gregg_vw]
by KCRam@Edmunds HOST
Feb 10, 2007 (10:20 pm)
I thoroughly disagree, my good host, that Ford is pulling in an old name. Up to last fall, Taurus was their best seller by far, even with total neglect.
Problem is, the 2006 was Ford's best seller, but they all went to Hertz, Enterprise, and Dollar. Ford admitted they artificially inflated sales by dumping these cars on the rental market, and finally realized it was a bad idea. Their January sales numbers reflected that reversal of policy.
Adding the name will get some more "boring sedan buyers" to look at trading their old Taurus for another one...rather than migrating to a Chevy Malibu (and I mean the current one, not the hot one coming).
This Taurus won't be available until the new "hot" Malibu is also out, so your comparison doesn't work. And the sad part is, the Malibu (in the Fusion/Camry/Accord class) and the Impala in the 500-Taurus/Avalon/300 class) will both blow it away. The Impala offers a 300+ horse V8 from the Silverado line, the 300/Charger offer two flavors of Hemi power - will Ford counter that with the new Taurus? Probably not. By the time this platform is re-engineered to truly compete, the other carmakers will be on their next generation.
As you note, the Taurus was neglected... that's why I believe this won't work. The Taurus of its last 5 years went nowhere while its competitors continued to improve. This is too important a sales segment to just play catch-up. I last drove a Taurus in 2002 (surprise, a rental), and it was one of the most lifeless things I ever had to drive. My godchildren's parents had a 2000 that they bought used at just one year old... same feel.
I used to be a "Ford guy" - my dad owned them, I owned them. But I just don't see any innovation coming out of Dearborn. Before and after the Daimler merger, Chrysler maintained that "so what, we're building it anyway" attitude... Toyota and Honda still completely revamp their cars no matter how great they sell... and at least with Chevy, GM has started to find its way again. Ford's only recent successes are the Mustang and Fusion. That's not enough to pay the bills.
And as others have pointed out, Ford isn't advertising the vehicles any more, just an image. The competition's ads tell you why you should buy their car - Ford ads don't because they don't have the features.
MY2008 will be the year that makes or breaks Ford. Mulally had better hope this works.
#76 of 530 Re: The part that makes no sense... [heyjewel]
Feb 11, 2007 (12:58 am)
"And rednecks is an offensive word."
PC Police Alert!!!!
The term "redneck" is used freely. It is not considered profanity by the standards of society. All forms of media use the term without adult viewing or listening restrictions. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy has made alot of money using "redneck" as the theme of his act. His shows are widely viewed by people of all ages and backgrounds.
If you find the word personally offensive then say so. But don't define proper speech to me on an automotive forum. Because frankly, I don't care.