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Ford Unveils Its Risky New 2015 Mustang

Ford's 2015 Mustang will go on sale in Q4 2014. Photo: Ford.

You could sense anxiety and blood pressure rising in loyal Ford (NYSE: F  ) Mustang enthusiasts across the nation over the last year as rumors spread regarding the iconic ride's new design. Ford found itself between a rock and a hard place and its new 2015 Mustang design needed to walk a fine line. It needed to create a muscle car that appealed to a new global audience, one that the Mustang hadn't previously been sold to, which would mean a smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicle. Yet it also had to appease its loyal, power-hungry American consumer. Ford also needed to modernize the pony car to compete with General Motors'  (NYSE: GM  ) Chevy Camaro yet keep age-old Mustang design cues.

The conclusion Ford came to is risky: It designed an American Mustang that it will sell globally, not the other way around.

Ford's 2015 Mustang design is risky. Photo credit: Ford.

"We find globally that everyone wants that piece of Americana," says Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer, according to Automotive News. "We designed a Mustang and decided to take it global. We did not design a global Mustang."

All you hard-core Mustang fans out there can finally take a breather; this won't look or feel like a European-style sports car. The Mustang's 5.0-liter V8 still provides tons of its iconic power, pushing out more than 420 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft of torque -- with better fuel economy, to boot. Ford will also offer a 3.7-liter V6 that pushes out at least 300 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft of torque. In addition to the V6 and V8 we've grown accustomed to, Ford has added a new option that will help the 2015 Mustang appeal to a global audience.

Ford's EcoBoost engines have been extremely popular with a 89%, 52%, and 42% take rate on its Escape, Fusion, and F-150 models, respectively. The 2015 Mustang will now have a 2.3-liter EcoBoost as an option. According to Ford, its EcoBoost engine with a unique intake manifold and turbocharger housing will enable it to push out more than 305 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft of torque. In addition to the comparisons above, my 2010 GT with a V8 pushes out about 325 horsepower -- the EcoBoost definitely makes an intriguing option.

Interior of Ford's 2015 Mustang. Photo: Ford.

Global ambitions aside, Ford's 2015 Mustang has its work cut out for it here where its archrival, the Chevrolet Camaro, has topped it in annual sales over the last three years and is on pace to do so again in 2013. One reason for the Camaro's recent success has been its sleek and modern look, while Ford was rocking a more retro look -- something that didn't appeal to as many young consumers. Moreover, as fuel efficiency gradually became one of the most important factors for car buyers, sales of the Mustang failed to recover after the recession.

Information from Automotive News DataCenter; 2013 projected through October sales.

Bottom line
Ford's been on a roll lately, launching popular designs one after another. I think it has definitely walked a fine line with its new design; it designed a Mustang that could appeal to younger and global consumers while not alienating its core consumer. Creating another American Mustang and pushing it globally is risky, to be sure, but if Ford's recent design success is any indication, we should expect the iconic pony car to gallop on the global stage with ease.

What do you think? Did Ford do enough with its new design for sales to rebound? Will it once again beat out its rival Camaro? Let me know in the comments below.

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Read/Post Comments (17) | Recommend This Article (25)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2013, at 9:16 AM, FordMan26 wrote:

    Making an American muscle car to be sold globally is the right move. People around the world are only interested in it because it is uniquely American. Similar to Americans who are interested in a cute Fiat 500, Europeans and Asians are interested in American muscle cars. It will do very well globally. Whether it beats the Camaro in the US is another question, but if it gets over the hurdle for global sales volume then it will be a business success.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2013, at 9:21 AM, TMFMarlowe wrote:

    Hey Fools, I'm headed to NYC to a Ford event where I'll see the new Mustang in person and talk to some of the Ford folks who created it. Any questions, post 'em here and I'll try to get answers for you.

    John Rosevear, Motley Fool auto nerd

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2013, at 9:41 AM, Skaterfs5 wrote:

    I don't quite understand why, as the article's headline states, the 2015 Mustang should be "risky". The appearance of the car hasn't changed to the point of being unrecognizable. It operates pretty much the same albeit with better braking and much improved handling. The styling seems, at least to me, more sleek, rounded and modern. Purists always squawk when something changes, even for the better. My concern, from a styling standpoint, is that the Mustang changes didn't go far enough. Regardless, people in the market for a sports coupe, including the purists, will, I think be impressed and will be more to look seriously at the Mustang. Yet the article uses the term "risky". Just being in any business is risky, is it not? Why, then, is this any more of a "risky" venture than anything else Ford might do? I believe that the new Mustang will be successful as long as Ford doesn't screw up the launch and suffer the multitude of problems and recalls that some of their other products have had.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2013, at 10:22 AM, jbtfsplk wrote:

    I think the sales chart say's it all. Pretty obvious that the Mustang now costs more than the guys that build 'em can afford. The problem is not the design - it's the price!

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2013, at 10:32 AM, TMFTwoCoins wrote:

    Exactly, Skaterfs5.

    In CEO Alan Mulally's "One Ford" plan, all vehicles have a global purpose, yet the Mustang definitely stayed American -- which as a Mustang owner, I'm happy about, but as an investor I believe it was risky to leave it so American. We'll see how it sells overseas, if it does well then the risk of leaving it designed for America will be a big win.

  • Report this Comment On December 05, 2013, at 11:12 AM, Hoptopia wrote:

    I think it is starting to lose some of its distinctiveness. The nose and headlights are borrowing from the Fusion look. Kind of a Viper crossed with a Fusion look. I guess they are out of old designs to refresh so they have to move on.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2013, at 6:04 PM, MikeinDenver wrote:

    I agree with some of what has been posted above. People around the world like Mustangs because they are unique. The front end of this car screams family sedan Taurus/Fusion. Exactly what you don't want. The Mustang doesn't need to fall in line with a company design language. It should have its own unmistakable design. They kept this with the rear so they somewhat understand that but I don't understand the need to make the front so unlike a Mustang. I'm sure they will see the jump in first year sales but after that I see it tanking just like the last generation. This time though not due to the economy but due to the fact that it doesn't look like a Mustang.

    Full disclosure I own a 2005 Mustang GT. I also like the way the Fusion and Taurus look.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2013, at 6:38 PM, dj1962 wrote:

    Unless Ford expects the international market for the Mustang to be bigger than the US market, their designing for the US market and selling it globally is less risky than the other way around. Internationalizing the Mustang would render it a Mustang in name only. Like the Mustang of the mid 1970s to mid 1980s, it was more of a Pinto than a Mustang.

    But that doesn't mean that I don't welcome improvements in braking and handling. Some might consider poor braking and handling part of the Mustang character but I can do without them.

    I drive a Mustang GT that I bought in December 2001. I have actually been pretty pleased with its reliability. US cars from the mid 1980s and earlier would have fallen apart by now (12 years, 108k miles, engine runs strong, no parts falling off). If the new one has improve braking and handling, I might replace it with the new one. I was considering a BMW 3 series.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2013, at 7:24 PM, WildaB wrote:

    I rented a Mustang convertible two years ago to drive up the California coast. Really, really disappointing. No power. I think they are making the right move.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2013, at 7:46 PM, DigitalManiac2 wrote:

    American muscle cars have always appealed to the Europeans, and now with an Asian marketplace with so many upper middle class buyers begging for something to set themselves apart from each other, I believe that the new Mustang will be a real winner.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2013, at 7:56 PM, jme101 wrote:

    Can we stop with the iconic thing. Three times in one article. I guess this year it is the word to use to show one is smart, even if used incorrectly. Iconic power, give me a break.

    Sorry for my off topic rant.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2013, at 9:24 PM, mivec009 wrote:

    As car enthusiast living outside the US, I can tell you that the rest of the world understands what this car is about. Its a uniquely American muscle car, which means tons of horsepower, sound and fury first, efficiency second. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

    Had Ford designed it "the other way round" as the writer put it, it loses its unique selling proposition. And just who buys a performance car for fuel efficiency anyway? There are better cars out there for such things coming out of Japan for instance.

    If there are improvements to be made to American muscle cars its usually the handling. Imrpove this and its worldwide appeal is assured.

    And maybe nicer designed interiors. Maybe. Otherwise leave it. Give it to us raw and wriggly.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2013, at 9:32 PM, CashorStock wrote:

    As an archrival owner (Camaro) I don't see the new look as a game changer in the US market. Not sure about global sales, but I think it is too "soft" looking now and the front end seems a little overstated, looks like it is trying too hard.

    I'll have to see one in person, but the Ford site picture are not all that flattering, it has very little of that muscle car stance, perhaps the lack of sharp lines.

    I think hey nailed the interior and electronics, but this kind of car is bought for how it looks on the outside, generally with the hope it leads to an interior look...

    It is certainly a different look, but iconic American muscle car, I don't think so, but then again there is no local reference in the global markets so this might not be an issue either.

    That said, I think the only significant risk for Ford is if they are counting on big international sales but I doubt that and the upside potential if it takes off is well worth the very small risk of turning off American Mustang folks, and with the softer look it may open the demographic a little and bring in new buyers.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2013, at 2:20 AM, observerbob2013 wrote:

    As an ex-Ford dealer many years ago I believe the risk would have been the other way around. Mustang is an ICON and as such needs to be kept an american car rather than a global car.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2013, at 9:46 AM, 1716879587 wrote:

    Marvin in the flick "Sin City" "Most of today's cars look like electric shavers" Guess Ford guys missed this movie. Carroll Shelby we miss ya!

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2013, at 11:54 AM, 48ozhalfgallons wrote:

    "The problem is not the design - it's the price!"

    Exactly! Ford keeps doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Doesn't Ford remember the late, great Tbird fiasco? That pre recession two seater retro design was superb, but for 50+ grand?? Back in college (the '60's) I bought a two year old '65 289 Stang, paid tuition, books and dates throwing papers. God those were the days! My brother bought his first car, a '56 Bird for 900 bucks also throwing papers...... and we thought the future was only getting brighter.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2013, at 7:17 PM, mythshakr wrote:

    For one European opinion, including the price, of Mustangs watch Jeremy Clarkson drive one from London to Milan

    His only complaints? Cheap plastic interior and too small a gas tank.

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