Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Stick a fork in Ford, they're done

I don't quite get this, despite some accolades I've already seen for it.

Ford Motor Co. might hope resurrecting the once-mighty Taurus name will help reverse lackluster sales and a lack of desirable cars. One analyst says it's a good start but the automaker has a long way to go. Ford will rename its slow-selling Five Hundred model the Taurus, a name Ford previously had used for a car that became the nation's top-seller, two company officials said Tuesday.

You can call a turd a rose, but it still smells like a turd. The Five Hundred isn't selling well, and it isn't because of its name. It isn't selling well because Ford, like the other U.S. manufacturers, tries to cut corners on the construction/materials of the vehicle in order to make up for their labor cost disadvantage with the Japanese car makers in particular. That means when you pop $20,000 plus for a new car like the Five Hundred from a U.S. manufacturer, it feels cheaper than a similarly priced car from a non-U.S. manufacturer and thus the purchase feels less satisfying. By bringing back the Taurus name, Ford is futilely trying to treat one of the symptoms of its illness, but is doing nothing to address the root cause of the illness. I know that for a lot of autoworkers for the Big 3, their jobs (and the resulting wages and benefits) are their American Dream. Their short-sightedness is stunning, though. The labor market has changed, as it always does, and their plump compensation/benefits today are the thing that is going to poison their golden goose.

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