The Mustang has been Ford's (NYSE:F) halo car, the center theme in blockbuster movie car chases and famous car shows across the nation. Its classic rivalry with the Camaro is the stuff of legends, and the Mustang has a loyal fan base unlike any other ride. Unfortunately for the folks at Ford, the target audience that sent the Mustang to its glory days has aged, and younger buyers haven't buying into its current retro look, sending Mustang sales plunging.
The Mustang needs a new look, and Ford is planning to unveil a more modern Mustang that it hopes will attract not only a younger audience, but also a global audience, breathing life into the iconic American muscle car yet again. I think the 2015 Mustang will be a game-changer and will send Mustang sales and popularity to heights not seen in decades.
Very risky design
When aiming for a game-changing design as Ford is doing with its Mustang, there's a huge hit-or-miss risk. Before the recession hit, Ford lost more than $30 billion between 2006 and 2008 and vowed to never produce vehicles for only one market. That means the American pony car will have to race on the global stage, which it has never done, and that means drastic style changes.
Consumers in Europe, and in China, won't go for the big bulky sports car as we've grown to love in America. Indeed, the Mustang will have to go on a bit of a diet to be a game-changer in 2014.
The current 'Stang weighs in at roughly 3,500 pounds, and according to Edmunds, Ford is working to remove a minimum of 400 pounds for the redesigned 2015 model. It's also rumored to be as much as 15 inches shorter and half a foot narrower.
OK, so nothing too drastic; I don't think that will send the American fan base to the doors yet. These slight style changes should enable the Mustang to sell overseas and help Ford conquer competition in Europe, and in China. Sales of the Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta are leading the charge overseas, but Ford needs a car that packs more of a punch, and the Mustang gives it just that. What could help solidify the Mustang's success here, and abroad, will be Ford's engine flexibility.
Flexibility is key
Ford has been touting its EcoBoost engine technology as more and more consumers clamor for better fuel economy. Check out the disparity between fuel economy and performance.
That's been one key reason sales of the Mustang haven't recovered since the recession, while the Fusion and smaller car sales have soared. That will change, as the 2015 Mustang will have a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 310 horsepower, as one option. That turbocharged option will likely sit above the base six-cylinder engine, and below its V-8, which will put out as much as 450 horsepower. This flexibility will allow any consumer, young or old, horsepower- or fuel economy-driven, to buy into the Mustang's new ride.
Ford's been on a roll since the depths of the Great Recession, and it's rolled out one popular design after another. For the Mustang to remain an American icon, it must evolve and become a global icon. I think because of its engine flexibility and fine balance in styling, Ford is going to be able to walk a fine line between American and global consumers. The 2015 Mustang will be more modern, yet have enough of its previous styling cues to still feel like the American muscle car we all know and love. I fully expect the 2015 Mustang to be a game-changer for Ford once again. One thing is for sure: We'll know how we feel when it's unveiled in December.