All the car blogs lately have been speculating on the direction that the Ford Motor Company is going to take in the wake of declining sales and stiff competition. We know that Ford has too much capacity and we know that the company will be closing some key plants and laying off an as yet to be determined number of employees. What hadn’t been clear is which models would be cut from the line up. Now, it appears that Ford will exit the lucrative minivan market. That’s right, Ford apparently will stick with building cars, trucks, and SUVs, and leave the minivan market to the other players.
Ever since the Chrysler Corporation invented the minivan market back in the early 1980s with its line of “K-car” derived minivans – the Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager, and the Chrysler Town & Country – Ford has been playing catch up. Indeed, a series of forgettable “star” named minivans were served up by Ford and summarily rejected by consumers: the Aerostar, Windstar, and the Freestar. Later, both Honda and Toyota brought out their own entries and Ford, along with Chevrolet found themselves trailing badly in an overcrowded segment. Indeed, several GM divisions sell minivans, as does Kia and Nissan, making the market especially tight.
Should Ford decide to go ahead with plans to ditch the minivan market, it wouldn’t be a complete retreat. For one, many consumers prefer the automaker’s popular Ford Explorer SUV while its all wheel drive Freestyle wagon/crossover competes well too. Finally, another vehicle – the Edge – will soon make its debut and likely pull many minivan customers over. The Edge will be yet another crossover vehicle – somewhat of a SUV/wagon hybrid – and fill the need for consumers.
Yes, Ford appears ready to ditch the minivan market. No loss to consumers and probably a smart move for the beleaguered automaker.