Ford’s stalwart large family car and S-Max and Galaxy MPVs axed in Euro shake-up
by Hilton Holloway, 16 July 2019
Ford of Europe is preparing a radical re-invention of its European large family car line-up by replacing the Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy with a single crossover-style estate model.
The new vehicle, whose name is not yet known, will mark Ford’s exit from both the classic large hatchback market and the MPV sector. Although there’s no news on a definitive launch date, the car is expected to arrive in early 2021.
Unlike some of Ford’s bespoke European models, the model will be sold in North America and beyond. In the US it is being compared by insiders to the Subaru Outback, itself a high-riding estate car.
Although a niche model in Europe, the Outback has been a significant success in the US since it was launched two decades ago, with recent sales above 200,000 units annually.
Last July Jim Farley, Ford’s president of new business, technology and strategy, hinted at the move away from conventional road cars towards what he called ‘utility’ body styles. He said the thinking behind the move into medium-rise crossovers was that customers would get “utility benefits without the penalty of poorer fuel economy”.
The new car will be built on Ford’s super-flexible C2 platform, which underpins the new Focus and, in time, should be able to stretch from accommodating the next Fiesta to the future seven-seat Edge SUV. The front section of the architecture will also be used by Ford’s future Transit and Tourneo family.
The model will be offered with petrol and diesel engines plus a 48V mild-hybrid petrol option. The base engine is expected to be Ford’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol unit, which will have a belt-driven electric motor and small battery in mild-hybrid form.
Insiders says that new Euro 6d-compliant diesel engines are, in pollution terms, as clean as petrol engines in real-world use. It is understood that these new oil-burners are still more economical than even mild-hybrid petrol engines, as well as being less expensive.
Ford’s move to medium-height crossovers in Europe is also partly a recognition that meeting future EU fuel economy regulations would have been very difficult with a line-up of conventional SUVs.
For a similar reason, it’s not yet known whether the car will be offered with fuel-sapping all-wheel drive in Europe. Instead, some kind of electronic traction control system for navigating loose surfaces is possible.
Ford will be hoping that the model will appeal to today’s mainstream market of ‘adventurous families’ who will be attracted by running costs lower than those of an SUV, allied to what’s said to be a particularly capacious load bay and a comfortable raised driving position.
Although the car will replace three very different vehicles, it is likely to outsell the Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy combined. Last year Ford Europe sold around 50,000 Mondeos, 24,000 S-Max models and 12,000 Galaxys — figures which are too low to be profitable enough.
By the time the model is launched, Ford will have discontinued four MPV model lines. The MPV market has been hit hard in recent years, and as a result Ford will end production of the C-Max and Grand C-Max by late summer, as well as the Romanian-built B-Max compact MPV. The Galaxy and S-Max will likely follow next year.
The B-Max will in effect be replaced by the upcoming Puma, and the company will look to steer existing C-Max owners into the new Kuga compact SUV. Mondeo and S-Max buyers will be targeted by the Fusion, and Galaxy users moved towards the smaller Transit Edge seven-seat SUV.