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Ford's Crisis & Concepts

Reports out of Dearborn strongly suggest that the Lincoln MKR and Ford Interceptor concepts will remain just that, concepts.

Reports out of Dearborn strongly suggest that the Lincoln MKR and Ford Interceptor concepts will remain just that, concepts. Suppliers say the twin-turbo gasoline direct-injected 3. 5-liter V6 seen under the shapely hood of the MKR will be the only part of that car to see the light of day, possibly in the MKS or Lincoln’s rumored version of the forthcoming Ford Fairlane crossover. If true, this is a sad day for Ford and a lost opportunity it may never have the chance from which to fully recover. Response to the cars has been strong from both the press and auto show goers alike—especially in the case of the Lincoln—and failure to build them will result—rightly or wrongly—in a deluge of stories questioning the company’s ability to survive.

Management insiders talk of planning meetings in which the first—and to many only—question asked is “What is Europe doing?” At first, this appears to be the logical outcome of trying to coordinate the platform plans of Ford’s various regions, but closer inspection suggests it is a delegation of responsibility to a group (Europe) that is seen as successful and in the process of launching a grouping of stunning new vehicles (Mondeo, S-Max, Galaxy). Insiders say it is also a classic Ford response to tough situations: follow the leader.

More disturbing than the lack of a rear-drive platform, say these same insiders, is that Ford is on a path that will relegate engineers in the U.S. to modifying platforms originating at Mazda, Volvo, and Ford of Europe for use here. The MKR and Interceptor were the best chance for Ford’s North American engineers to develop a platform on their own. As of this writing, the only platforms to originate in North America will be found on the truck side of Ford’s ledger.—CAS