Ford recently announced the impending demise of every passenger car in their lineup outside of the Mustang, instead choosing to focus on a future of crossovers, SUVs and trucks. This move shocked many — and enthusiasts everywhere are mourning the loss of the Fiesta ST, Focus ST, and Focus RS models. But this is not the end of the automotive world as we know it.
Ford made this decision because their cars simply weren’t profitable anymore. People have moved towards crossovers in huge margins, hurting even stalwarts like the Honda Accord. The Blue Oval wasn’t able to sell enough of their cars in America anymore to justify the cost of production, marketing, shipping, training for dealerships and press events for journalists. It was just not a good environment to do business in — and if the business of business is business, as Milton Friedman put it, there was no reason for Ford to stay.
One of the big fears that people have after seeing Ford ax their cars is that every other manufacturer is going to do the same. However, this isn’t necessarily realistic. Sure, some other companies will probably follow suit (in fact, Mitsubishi pretty much beat them to the punch years ago) — but there’s still a demand for passenger cars. Ford leaving the market will surely relieve pressure in a market that is struggling to support buyers, and it will give other companies some breathing room to be profitable. If anything, this could help to save passenger cars.
To be honest, I could see Chevrolet and possibly Acura following their lead, and Chrysler has basically already done it, save for the 300 and Dodge Charger — but once that happens, I would wager the bleeding will stop.
As for the death of the hallowed ST and RS models, it’s sad to see them go — but it’s certainly not the end of the company’s daliances in performance cars. Ford is still making the Raptor, and the Edge ST is a pretty good sign that they’ll continue to focus on performance in the space of crossovers. Maybe we’ll see an EcoSport that’s actually sporty, or an Explorer that could take on a Grand Cherokee SRT. I’m personally quite excited by the possibility of a Ranger in Raptor’s clothing, which could be very exciting.
Meanwhile, if you want a hot hatch, rest assured there will still be options. But if you really, really want an ST or RS, you should plan to snag one soon — before they’re gone forever.