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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Renault: Go Back to France

    While Benz, in Germany, may have invented the automobile, it is distinctly American, as an art form, cultural symbol, and economic staple.’ Could the French have ever built the Mustang?’ Have the Spanish ever come close to our GTO?’ I think not.’ Americans took the concept of the horseless carriage and made it a thing of beauty, and it is up to us to once again regain our rightful place as the King of the Hill, so to speak, without having to rely on European intervention.’ It’s just plain un-American.

    I could only imagine what it would be like to travel back in time to 1960 and tell the Ford family that their company was in shambles, begging to be overtaken by a French automaker.’ My vision is that I would be tarred and feathered for such a suggestion, and rightfully so.’ For those of you who don’t follow the auto field so closely, Renault, which owns Nissan, is currently in talks with GM regarding a merger.’ Ford wants in on this action, as former CEO Bill Ford went so far as to ask Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault, to take his job.’ The worst part of all of this is that many analysts agree that a merger between an American auto giant, either GM or Ford, and Renault isn’t a bad idea.’ That’s why I believe that analysts know nothing.

    The focus of this article will be on a few basic steps that Ford can take to regain its position as Number 2 auto maker in the world.’ GM, I believe, is a far more complicated story, and is in some ways beyond help.’ GM’s love affair with Europe and the East has too severely comprised its ability or will to build American cars for American consumption, as we can see by Opel’s rise and Saturn’s demise.’ Therefore, Ford gets my special treatment.

    Step 1: Fire Your Design Staff

    There must be literally hundreds to thousands of design students coming out of college every year these days.’ Even I, though I can’t draw to save my life, could design a car that is more appealing than the Ford Freestyle or the Ford 500.’ Seriously, though, what were you guys thinking?’ At what point in the design or production processes did you say, ‘A bland station wagon!’ This is going to sell like hotcakes!’?’ As far as I’m concerned, the men and women responsible for such travesties are lucky to only be fired, and not sued for tarnishing the good name of the Ford Motor Company.

    To reference my earlier article regarding design and Ford, don’t be afraid to be bold.’ People buy your Mustang and they buy your F-150, two great looking automobiles.’ I can see the company trying to break out of its shell with some great concepts for the Lincoln brand, but more needs to be done immediately.’ It’s gotten so bad that the Asian cars are getting the leg up on styling, especially Hyundia, Nissan, and even Toyota.

    Step 2: Bolster and Consolidate Your Engine Design Teams

    Why do you guys build a dozen V8s, and only a couple of them are good performers?’ The same goes for your V6s and I4s.’ Jaguar’s 4.7-liter V8 is a bit too underpowered for it to compete with BMW, while the Mustang 5.0-liter is one of the best in its class.’ It’s time to follow Daimler-Chrysler’s lead and do a bit of engine consolidation.’ That means only having three to five engines to choose from, plus variations that include hybrids and turbos.

    Take all of your V8 design people and assign them to make a Hemi-killer.’ Give it a catchy name, like the Ford Bullet (that name just stands out for me, for some reason).’ It should produce at least 350 horses with a similar rating for torque.’ Invest in cylinder-deactivation technology, not just for your V8s but for the V6s as well.’ Your goal should be to beat Chrysler at its own game, and then offer this engine in any car it will fit into.’ So long as its a standard part of the Ford arsenal, you won’t have to worry about supply problems- the same engine will be shared by a dozen models, making production and consumption far easier to plan than today.

    Take that new 3.5-liter V6 you spent so much time on and make it the only V6 you offer.’ That would simply supply issues and make your cars easier to sell, trust me.’ The same goes with Mazda’s I4s that are used in the great Mazda3.’ Take the 2.0-, 2.3-, and 2.3-liter DI turbos and put them into every compact car you sell.’ They deliver great power with great efficiency, and you’ll immediately see sales of cars such as your Focus go up.

    Step 3: For God’s Sake, Stop Laying Off People

    How are you ever going to expand if you insist on contracting?’ Think big.’ Take those 30,000 jobs you want to cut in the next few years and put them to work.’ Build more Mustangs while you still control that niche.’ I went into a Ford dealership last year interested to buy a new Mustang.’ It had been out for a whole year by then.’ Do you know what the salesperson told me?’ There was a tight supply and I’d have to pay a few thousand above sticker.’ Rather than be stingy with your success, build upon it.’ Get those men and women back into Ford uniforms and have them produce cars as if you are a serious contender in the auto industry.’ Toyota builds new plants in America as you close them.’ For shame, fellas.

    Step 4: Demystify Hybrids by Streamlining

    Imagine this: On just about any Ford, you will be able to add a Hybrid Package for between $2500 and $3500 dollars.’ Start designing your powertrains to be able to handle a hybrid system that mimics Toyota’s Camry Hybrid or Honda’s Accord Hybrid.’ These are simple hybrid systems when compared with the Prius.’ They offer roughly 30% better fuel economy and more power than gasoline engines alone.’ You could make your failing SVT initiative a Hybrid initiative.’ Not only will customers pay for better mileage, they will pay for better performance.’ On the I4 engines, the performance gains will be modest with great gains in fuel economy, but on the V8 engines, the opposite will be true- Toyota has exploited this with its Lexus brand, and you can do the same.

    In four simple steps, Ford can not only return to profitability, but also sell cars in the process.’ I know for a fact that even under new leadership, Ford will do none of this and will continue to throw us niche bones in the form of the Mustang and the failed Thunderbird.’ In the end, Ford might fail, and that F-150 you go to buy will be profiting a French company.’ The worst of it is that none of this has to be- Americans have lost the innovation that catapulted them to fame in the auto world, and I continue to mourn that loss.

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