I’m going to rank this rumour as a four or five out of ten on the believability scale, based on the swiftness and lack of equivocation in a statement Ford sent over. Ninety-nine times out of 100, automakers say they can’t comment on future product when you ask. Except when they do.
First, Automotive News report on the future of the Edge, itself based on a consulting firm’s report:
“Unless Ford decides on a different program to replace the Edge, there’s no future for Oakville,” which employs 4,200 hourly workers, said Sam Fiorani, vice-president of global forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions.
Ford Motor Co. declined to comment.
Last year, Ford ended production of the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT at the Oakville plant, and, according to Fiorani, the automaker plans to shift output of the Lincoln Nautilus to China in 2023.
The next-generation Edge was supposed to have been launched in June 2023 on a new platform, said Fiorani. But tepid retail sales as well as an increasingly crowded midsize crossover segment contributed to Ford’s decision to cancel the new program, he said.
Next, a different report from The Detroit Bureau, which is run by Paul Eisenstein, who has been in the automotive journalism game for decades and as recently as January was writing pretty regularly for CNBC. Eisenstein says he has his own sources on the matter.
However, a number of sources reached by TheDetroitBureau.com indicated that the possibility of eliminating the crossovers is highly likely.
“They may be concerned that the space (the two compete in) is getting too crowded,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst with IHS Automotive.
Since the original version of the Edge was launched during the 2007 model year, more than a dozen competitors have entered the segment. Meanwhile, Ford has shifted direction for its other midsize model, the Explorer. Originally based on a truck-like platform, Explorer now uses a car-like architecture, as does the Edge. The biggest difference is that Explorer is a three-row package, Edge offering just two rows. The addition of a five-seat Explorer could resolve that problem.
Now to Ford, which emailed me the following statement, emphasis mine:
Edge and the five-passenger midsize SUV segment remain a critical part of Ford’s winning portfolio. We have no plans to exit the segment, particularly as Edge sales were up 3 per cent to nearly 140,000 Edges in the U.S. last year. Since its launch in 2006, we have sold more than 1.6 million Edges in America. Customers are loving the all-new Edge ST, with retail sales up 41 per cent in 2019. We also are building on that success with launch of the Edge ST-Line, which is now available for order, plus upgraded features for the 2021 Edge.
Ford could have opted not to comment at all, which it usually does the vast majority of the time when it comes to stories like this about future product. But instead it released a statement that is the equivalent of “Your sources are wrong, fight me” and there’d be little reason to do that if it wasn’t true. Or at least true right now. A lot can change between now and 2023.
More than anything the various reports about the Edge seem to be not about the Edge itself but about the future of Ford’s plant in Oakville, Ontario.
The assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, used to make the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT, and currently makes only two models: the Lincoln Nautilus and Ford Edge. The Flex and MKT were cancelled last year, and Nautilus production is scheduled to move to China after 2023, said [Fioriani]. The demise of the Edge, which debuted in 2006 and received a facelift in 2019, would leave the plant with no new product to anchor it, Fiorani said, citing industry sources.