For Sale By:Dealer
Exterior Color: White
Interior Color: Gray
Model: Transit Connect
Trim: AdvanceTrac RSC
Drive Type: No Transmission
Aurora, Illinois, United States
According to Ford, the Chinese SUV segment grew by 49 percent in 2013, and the Blue Oval held a 4.5 percent market share. At the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, Ford is showing the Everest SUV that, while just a concept for now, will go into production in the near future.
The Everest is a big, brawny seven-seat SUV that mixes solid, chiseled styling and contemporary Ford design cues. Up front there is an angular version of the trapezoidal grille and sharp, wraparound headlights. The beltline rises in the rear to make the back appear higher than the front. The rear seems just as chiseled, with the taillights resting in jagged scallops. There is no doubt that this concept means to look rugged, and ready for rough roads - the whole thing looks pretty great.
The truck was penned by Ford's Asia Pacific design and engineering team in Australia, and it was first shown in Sydney last year. Ford's JMC joint venture will build the truck for the Chinese market, and it will be sold at Ford dealers there. The Blue Oval isn't hinting at what powers the production version yet, but it reportedly shares some components with the foreign-market Ranger.
Now here's some welcome news. Car and Driver reports Ford is seriously mulling a replacement for the recently deceased Ranger, but the successor to the compact pickup's throne may not look anything like what we've seen from the nameplate in the past.
While speaking at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, Doug Scott, marketing manager for Ford Trucks, said there's still a market for a smaller pickup, but that buyers expect to see a larger differentiation between the smaller utility vehicles and their full size counterparts in price, capability and fuel economy.
According to Scott, that means a vehicle with a payload capacity of around 1,000 pounds paired with a towing capacity of 3,000 pounds and "a dramatic reduction in fuel consumption." But the biggest piece of that recipe is the price tag, and Scott says to keep the MSRP far enough away from the already cheap F-150, the answer could come in the form of a unibody design. Scott says target customers in this market don't care whether the truck has a traditional frame or not, so long as it's tough enough to do the job and has the capability they need.
If you want further proof that the auto industry is bouncing back, look no further than the empty lots and forecourts of your local dealership. According to a story by The Wall Street Journal, continued high demand for mainstream cars is overtaxing automakers' ability to produce enough models. Several dealers interviewed for the story are reporting two-week supplies as opposed to the typical two-month allocations.
With sales expected to hit 1.4 million units when August numbers arrive shortly and incentive spending down to its lowest amount since January, these limited supplies are pushing prices even higher. For example, according to the WSJ, the average price of a Ford Fusion is up past $26,000. Unfortunately, it's difficult for manufacturers to increase production quickly. If it invests in its facilities, as many manufacturers have done, it risks wasting cash if growth suddenly slows. At the same time, the momentum gained over the past several years could be short lived if vehicle supplies continue to dwindle. "Manufacturers are in a precarious situation," notes Karl Brauer, a senior director at Kelley Blue Book.
Low interest rates and a wealth of desirable features are also allowing customers to purchase more expensive vehicles while justifying their higher overall price tags, a situation that is compounding supply shortages. Even now, during the annual end-of-summer clearance season, deals on new vehicles are remarkably difficult to come by. According to the report, the Toyota Corolla is in a self-inflicted state of shortage, as Toyota clears out inventory in anticipation of the new 2014 generation arriving in dealers. Ford's supplies should rebound as Fusion production comes on line at its Flat Rock, Michigan factory. The Chevrolet Impala, Honda Odyssey, Civic, and Accord and Subaru Forester are also facing shortages.