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Ford drops the Freestyle

Old 7/18/05, 07:48 AM
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Ford to drop current Freestyle from van plan; vehicle name will likely survive

AMY WILSON | Automotive News and RICK KRANZ | Automotive News
Posted Date: 7/18/05

DETROIT -- As it juggles plans for new crossovers and minivan replacements, Ford Motor Co. intends to drop the existing version of its Ford Freestyle sport wagon.

But the Freestyle name will survive, Ford officials say.

The current Freestyle, which went on sale just 10 months ago, will be discontinued after the 2007 model year, several supplier and industry sources say. With sales below expectations, the Freestyle was squeezed out by a proliferation of sport wagons in Ford's plans.

A Ford source acknowledged that the current Freestyle will vanish.

Significant change

That represents a significant change in plans. Previously, Ford had scheduled a facelift for the Freestyle for the 2008 model year, giving it the Ford brand's new three-bar horizontal grille.

A Mercury version of the current Freestyle will be produced in 2007, as planned.

The Freestyle decision highlights the fluidity of product planning at Ford now. Timing, assembly plants and platforms for several vehicles are in flux, supplier and company sources said. This summer's contract negotiations with the Canadian Auto Workers union likely are delaying some final approvals.

Ford is expected to shift the Freestyle name to one of several crossovers and minivan replacements being developed on the Volvo-derived D3 and Mazda6-based CD3 platforms.

These include Ford and Lincoln minivan replacements - which the company calls "people movers" - inspired by the Ford Fairlane concept shown at the 2005 Detroit auto show. That concept used the CD3 platform. But Ford now plans to re-engineer the larger Volvo platform for the vehicles, sources said.

Ford also has abandoned long-touted plans to use the CD3 platform for its next-generation minivans, sources say. It now appears Ford will drop its current minivans when the Fairlane-styled Ford and Lincoln vehicles appear.

The changes in the sport wagon-minivan segment pushed out the current Freestyle, sources said.

"They're trying to sort out that whole segment," one supplier source said. "They have the Freestar, the Freestyle and then this Fairlane. There's not enough room for all three of those."

Freestyle sales have been much softer than Ford had anticipated. Since it went on sale, Ford has sold 44,066 Freestyles in the United States. Company officials at one time forecast annual sales of more than 100,000.

'We're very happy'

Ford product chief Phil Martens wouldn't confirm the demise of the current Freestyle or the plan for the Ford Fairlane and Lincoln minivan replacements.

"We have made the proper adjustments, and we're very happy with our product plans down the line," Martens said.

Here is the current plan, according to industry sources:

>> A Mercury version of the Freestyle still is scheduled for production in Chicago in 2007. That will recoup some of the investment in the current Freestyle. But sales of a Mercury model likely will fall far short of a Ford-brand vehicle.

>> The 2007 Lincoln Aviator and what tentatively is being called the Ford Edge will be built at Ford's Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant beginning about a year from now. They are two-row sport wagons on the Mazda6 platform. A three-row sport wagon also is being developed for Oakville, suppliers say, though it's not clear what badge it will carry.

>> The large Volvo-derived minivan replacements for Ford and Lincoln are scheduled to be built at Ford's Atlanta assembly plant, probably in 2008. Those three-row vehicles are expected to replace Ford's conventional minivans.

Despite earlier plans, Ford ultimately deemed the Mazda6 platform too small for both its minivans and the Fairlane, sources said. While the Fairlane's styling was praised, some journalists attending the Detroit auto show said it was too small. The two top-selling minivans, the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Honda Odyssey, are considerably larger.

>> The Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans are expected to die when the Ford and Lincoln minivan replacements debut, if not before. Sales have faltered badly since the vehicles debuted in late 2003. The Monterey especially is tanking, with recent monthly sales of fewer than 400 units.

Too many products

Product plans at any automaker are always fluid, but things at Ford seem especially muddled, sources say.

"There seems to be a lot of confusion, which is not necessarily new," one supplier source said. "They seem to be kind of in an uproar on what they'll do."

Martens rejected that notion: "We know what we're doing, and there was always a plan."

One industry analyst says the switch with the Freestyle shows that Ford recognizes that the market is looking for other things right now.

"It has not met expectations. And the market is rewarding bold styling," said Jeff Schuster, an analyst with J.D. Power and Associates. "But there's a positive spin to this - they're adapting more quickly than they have in the past."
Link:

http://www.autoweek.com/news.cms?newsId=102793
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Old 7/18/05, 07:56 AM
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Well at least they're shifting the name over instead of just plain dropping it. Its too bad. I really liked the Freestyle. Hey but you gotta do what you gotta do.
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Old 7/18/05, 09:17 AM
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con sarnit
i really liked that car, i was really hoping for a hybrid version of it, i could've totally seen my parents getting one of those. they had mentioned the possibility of hybrid 500 and freestyles.
all i know is that my folks love their grand marquis/crown vic wagons, it'd be great if ford kept making a modern alternative.

i really woulda liked to have seen a three chrome bar grill on the freestyle
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Old 7/18/05, 09:23 AM
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I wonder how cheap these things will get...my parents are looking for a new "people mover."
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Old 7/18/05, 09:26 AM
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Originally posted by mustang_sallad@July 18, 2005, 11:20 AM
con sarnit
i really liked that car, i was really hoping for a hybrid version of it, i could've totally seen my parents getting one of those. they had mentioned the possibility of hybrid 500 and freestyles.
all i know is that my folks love their grand marquis/crown vic wagons, it'd be great if ford kept making a modern alternative.

i really woulda liked to have seen a three chrome bar grill on the freestyle
I love them too. Great looking and AWD, plus an excellent V6. They are wonderful
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Old 7/18/05, 10:29 AM
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i really like the way it looked in that commercial with that one lady. the car looked hot in black!
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Old 7/18/05, 11:51 AM
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Freestyle doesn't look bad at all, if Ford is planing to discontinue one of his cars then that car should be 500.
Recently I bought book called "The End of Detroit" and books talks about American auto industry in past 20 years and there are few pages that talked about Taurus, how it becamed number #1 sedan and how Taurus died because of Ford's own mistakes. I know that Ford wanted to replace Taurus with 3 cars (500, Freestyle and Fusion), but even they all together will never be as good sellers like Taurus was. In my opinion they should kill both Freestyle and 500 and spent more time and effort with Fusion because that car might be very succesful.
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Old 7/18/05, 05:33 PM
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I think Ford dropped the ball on the styling of the freestyle. The concept had much better touches and probably would be more popular if it looked a bit more aggressive.





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Old 7/18/05, 05:44 PM
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:cough: just sell this :cough:

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Old 7/18/05, 06:05 PM
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The Concept did look a lot better
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Old 7/18/05, 06:20 PM
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The concept would have definitley attracted a younger audience. At the same time, they could have advertised it in a similar manner as the subaru forrester, a fuel efficent crossover
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Old 7/18/05, 06:31 PM
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I havent seen alot of them around here at all. shame
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Old 7/20/05, 09:49 AM
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Ford: News of Freestyle's death greatly exaggerated
Chicago plant to build SUV 'for a long time'

Ford Motor Co. denied a published report Monday that it will stop building the Freestyle sport-utility vehicle in 2007 at its Torrence Avenue plant on Chicago's South Side.

Trade newspaper Automotive News, citing unnamed sources, said the car-based "crossover" SUV would be dropped just three years after launch because of sluggish sales and because Ford will introduce similar models to replace it.

Vehicles normally stay in production at least five years to recover development costs.

"We're committed to making the Freestyle for a long time," Ford spokesman Dan Bedore said in denying the report.
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Old 7/20/05, 11:03 AM
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Originally posted by Vermillion98@July 20, 2005, 11:52 AM
Ford: News of Freestyle's death greatly exaggerated
Chicago plant to build SUV 'for a long time'
Well how about that! Well thats great news! Thanks for sharing
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Old 7/20/05, 11:57 AM
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Originally posted by Vermillion98@July 20, 2005, 10:52 AM
Ford: News of Freestyle's death greatly exaggerated
Chicago plant to build SUV 'for a long time'

Good news!
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Old 7/20/05, 01:34 PM
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See this is why I shouldn't read the news from BON. I know I shouldn't, but I still do. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? :bang:
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Old 7/20/05, 02:46 PM
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Originally posted by bigred0383@July 20, 2005, 2:37 PM
See this is why I shouldn't read the news from BON. I know I shouldn't, but I still do. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? :bang:
I posted that article because I read it on Autoweek.com which is normally pretty trustworthy. I stopped paying attention to anything on BON long ago.
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Old 7/20/05, 02:56 PM
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the nose of the freestyle reminds me of the mustang somehow...
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Old 7/21/05, 11:28 AM
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sweet, that makes me happy, i like the freestyle, and look forward to seeing that three bar grill on it.

The concept has a cooler face, mustang-like round lights in a rectangular frame, and the whole car wasn't as tall, which i prefer. I think it'd be cooler if it was shorter, separate it more from the explorer, make it a true wagon!
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Old 7/21/05, 09:01 PM
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Concept was a "car" kind of a tough station wagon. The current vehicle is an "MPV", something Soccer Moms husbands can drive without the ball-less stigma of having to drive a mini-van.
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