Ford recently announced plans to phase out most of its sedans by 2020 in favor of a portfolio that is mainly comprised of trucks, utilities, and commercial vehicles.
This shift will not only affect retail consumers, but those who manage commercial fleets. Automotive Fleet reached out to fleets with a large percentage of Ford vehicles to have them weigh in on how the change may impact them.
Phil Schreiber, fleet manager for United Technologies Corp., has a sedan fleet of 1,200 vehicles, and his overall fleet consists of 9,800 vehicles. However, he said the discontinuation of most of the automaker's sedans won't affect him negatively since his total sedan fleet is mixed with a number of different vehicles from various OEMs.
"The effect of not having Ford cars with us is going to be minimal at best," he said. "I have about 100 Fusions or so, so for me it won't really make much of a difference."
For his sales team and supervisors he offers Fusions and Escape compact SUVs, and he mentioned that, considering this shift, he will focus more on supplying Escapes where applicable.
"So instead we'll have Escapes with front-wheel drive for non-snowy areas, and we will have escapes with all-wheel-drive in snowy areas," said Schreiber.
Another fleet manager who requested anonymity has a sedan fleet primarily comprised of Ford Fusions and mentioned the fleet does not plan on transitioning to SUVs and crossovers. A concern the fleet manager addressed surrounding this shift was the ongoing rise in fuel prices.
Ford recently reaffirmed its plans to stick with phasing out sedans, and reassured investors that the move is not a retreat but would instead help reshape the company's lineup, according to Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford. The passenger car models the automaker plans to retain are the Ford Mustang and a crossover-like Focus Active hatchback.
Schreiber, who also manages Otis Elevator's fleet, said that Otis also has a large makeup of Ford vehicles, with an emphasis on vans and trucks.
"It's all vans and trucks of all sizes, from F-150s to F-650s," he said.
However, Schreiber also said that with the announcement fleets should wait and see what kinds of impacts this decision might have on the industry before they make any major decisions.