Yesterday, Ford dropped the bomb that it will no longer invest in sedans or small vehicles for the U.S market. That means, outside of the upcoming “Focus Active” crossover and the eternal-Ford-flame Mustang, the only vehicles that will carry the Blue Oval beyond 2020 will be trucks and SUVs of varying sizes. It’s all in the pursuit of profit, despite Ford raking in $1.7 billion last quarter. The company still wants to make more money — crossovers and SUVs are where they’ll find it.
Sadly, Ford isn’t alone. Volkswagen recently announced a similar initiative and swirling speculation says Cadillac pushed out Johan de Nysschen as CEO because he wouldn’t convert the lineup to crossovers fast enough. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re now on the precipice of the neo-modern, fully-lame Malaise era.
In the early ‘70s, American car manufacturers reacted to incredibly inflated oil prices, emission restrictions and new safety regulations by downsizing engines, making smaller cars and scaling back on big, expensive designs. The goal was to compete with the already small, efficient European imports, but America was coming off of a nearly insurmountable diet of 6.5-liter V8s and sub-20 mpg ratings — it didn’t go well.
Along with those government restrictions, and based on the way consumers were drifting towards European and Japanese imports, American manufacturers thought that by pinching pennies, they’d turn a profit. The result was cookie-cutter cars powered by lifeless engines, lacking any design inspiration and giving zero reward to the driver. During the ‘70s and into the ‘80s, in an effort to chase profit, instead of investing money in making a better product, American car manufacturers sold their soul and ripped us off. It was an era in which Cadillac earned the reputation it’s still trying to shake off 30 years later: making boring cars for retirees.
Flash forward to 2018, and the SUV and crossover market is booming in America. Every manufacturer, not just in America, has introduced crossovers and SUVs of different sizes in order to cash in. But, once again, American manufacturers like Ford are being pressured by investors and the general market to make a quicker return, so they’re cutting off what they see as dead weight. Instead of investing man hours, ingenuity and creativity into making, say, a better sedan to compete with the likes of BMW, Mercedes and even Toyota (the Camry is the best selling car in America), Ford is scaling back and pinching pennies. And you can bet good money GM isn’t far behind with a similar plan of action. It’s the ‘70s all over again.
So, like in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when we said goodbye to iconic American luxury land-yachts and heart-pounding muscle cars, and welcomed forgettable, awful masses of metal Ford and GM called cars, we’re now saying goodbye to cars with any discernible style and design. Over the next year or two, America will slowly transition into only producing awkwardly proportioned, lackluster crossovers while the rest of the world pumps out fun, exciting and inspiring vehicles. Sorry to say, it’s all the average consumer’s fault because crossovers are essentially for people who are indifferent about what they drive.
The US will once again become a land of forgettable cars designed to save money and bolster profit. Hopefully the rest of the world’s manufacturers don’t follow suit, and instead continue building beautiful, desirable cars. And, hopefully, we won’t have to wait 25 years to import them.