It’s the ultimate American muscle car – although technically just a “pony” car and finally the Mustang will be up for grabs on all four corners of the Earth, as the new design Ford unveils on four continents tomorrow is destined to spur global sales.
Ford has kept a tight lid on its newest model, stoking speculation over how the automaker plans to handle a crucial tradeoff: honoring the look that has made the Mustang a classic, while also updating the car to compete with General Motors Co.’s more futuristic Chevrolet Camaro. Nevertheless, as any secret is hard kept nowadays, leaks today have showed a good deal of the car’s design.
Getting the balance right has big implications for Ford’s rivalry with Chevrolet. The fifth complete Mustang redesign in five decades will arrive days after the Dearborn, Michigan-based company said the car’s U.S. sales dropped 7.7 % in the year’s first 11 months and lagged further behind the Camaro.
“You can think about Ford as the Mustang and F-150 company,” said Eddie Alterman, editor in chief of Car and Driver. “Increasingly, that’s expanded to include Fusion and Focus. They’re becoming more and more known for these really well-designed, high-dynamic integrity sedans that are engineered in Europe.”
More recently, the model has lost ground within Ford’s own lineup, with the Fiesta small car making a run at knocking it from among the automaker’s three best-selling passenger cars. Ford’s U.S. light-vehicle sales rose 7.1 % in November to 189,705, more than a third of which were F-Series pickups. GM and Chrysler Group LLC led sales gains for the month with strong pickup sales to go with the best car lineup in a generation. Ford Fusion family sedan sales rose 51 %.
The 71,459 Mustang deliveries so far this year puts the muscle car further behind the Camaro – with 75,552 sold over the same period – for the U.S. sports-car crown. Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker behind Detroit-based GM, had to maintain just-retro-enough looks to pacify purists of the original American muscle car.
Chevy’s Camaro, which hasn’t looked back since a redesign powered it past Mustang in the U.S. three years ago, pushed designers in the other direction. Add to those pressures the challenge of crafting the first Mustang that Ford planned to sell globally.