Ford says that Lincoln sedans, including the Continental, will not be phased out. As part of the move, Ford will be phasing out sales of traditional sedans and hatchbacks in the North American market. Meanwhile, the company has sold 19,164 Mustangs this year.
Exiting most of the vehicle business comes as the USA market continues a dramatic shift toward trucks and SUVs. The new USA -market version of the Focus will be made in China. In the next couple of years, Ford plans to have as many as six high-performance SUVs on the market including a fully electric model. The only Ford-brand cars it will sell in the USA will be the Mustang (a family jewel) and a single SUV-light model of the redesigned Focus hatchback called the Focus Active.
Company officials said the shift was based on declining demand and profitability, but Ford reported $1.7 billion in profit for the first quarter in 2018 - a 9 percent increase compared to the same period a year ago. In the same quarter two years ago, for instance, Ford reported a $2.45 billion profit. It said net income rose 9 percent due largely to a lower-income tax rate.
"Ford realized it can't be everything to everyone, and in today's market that could be OK", said Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com, an auto-information website.
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The changes will also allow the company to devote more resources to SUVs and trucks, vehicles that have exploded in popularity as consumers continue to lose interest in passenger cars, which no longer have a monopoly on good gas mileage. That same year, the companyt also plans to roll out hybrid options for the Mustang, the F-150 and its Escape, Explorer and new Bronco SUVs. The organization will start the rollout of its battery electric vehicles with an electric execution model in 2020.
The company is also reviving two of its historic vehicles: the Ranger pickup, which will return in 2019, and the Bronco SUV, which will return to the USA market in 2020.
There will be some retooling to prepare for the new SUV models, but there is no plan to shut down the plant, Felker said. In 2017, Ford's pretax profit dropped from $10.3 billion in 2016 to $8.4 billion. Trucks and SUVs have always been the brand's strengths.
Right now, however, "there are no signs the shift away from cars will slow down", Kelley Blue Book said in December, a month in which sales volume was again dominated by crossovers, pickup trucks and SUVs.