Could a New Fuel Efficient Ford be in Your Future? (Reprinted from Green Car Journal)

With the new Ford C-Max hybrid about to hit the market, I thought I'd reprint this column i wrote for Green Car Journal earlier this year. 


Could a New Fuel Efficient Ford be in Your Future?

by Roland Hwang

Originally Published Green Car Journal 01/28/2012

I’m a son of an immigrant. Growing up in the 1960s, my family was loyal to domestic cars. We always had a Ford in our driveway, Country Squire, Galaxie, and others. They were great cars. Big, roomy, powerful. But, of course, hardly fuel-efficient.

Sometime during the 1970s, between oil shocks and multiple cross country moves, my family, like many Americans, discovered the virtues of high quality, fuel-efficient Japanese cars. In our case, Hondas. And we never looked back.

My story was repeated by millions of other Americans, who instead of Ford, were once loyal GM or Chrysler owners who switched their allegiances to Toyotas or Nissans.

But Ford’s new fuel-efficiency focus, combined with advanced engine technologies, strong quality, and cutting edge style, is now drawing me back into the Ford showroom for a second look.

Over a 20 year time span encompassing three oil shocks, the Detroit Big Three automakers lost 12 points of market share. The rise of the gas guzzling SUVs during the 1990’s padded Detroit’s profits but it ceded the car market to the Japanese. As a result, market share dropped another 14 points from 1991 to 2005. By 2009, Detroit’s market share stood at a historic low of 43.7 percent.

But something different is happening now. While 2011 ended with record high gasoline prices for that time of year, instead of plummeting Detroit’s market share shot up sharply, gaining an astounding three points over the year.

Detroit, prompted by the first increase in fuel economy standards in a generation, is better prepared with showrooms full of competitive, fuel-efficient cars. Customers no longer are flocking to imports for gas sippers.

Not too long ago, the idea that a government requirement to dramatically increase fuel efficiency would lead to the rebirth of the American auto industry would have been heresy to all but the most ardent environmentalists. Today, it’s not too farfetched that fuel-efficiency champions the likes of Alan Mulally and Daniel Akerson will one day be remembered as environmental heroes.

Related Issues

Related Blogs