Will Ford Emulate General Motors?

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Both General Motors and Ford are steadily losing ground in the United States auto market for the same reason. Both automakers have not expected that price of gasoline will sky rocket today that consumers will be opting for smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles. Both automakers are caught up in outdoing each other by producing larger and larger vehicles.

In the past, SUVs and pickup trucks are well and good. But in today's world where the price of petroleum fuel is continually rising along with the blood pressure of cost-conscious Americans, these large vehicles have become liabilities for General Motors and Ford.

Both are now pushing through with their turnaround plan to arrest their decreasing share market and sales. Detroit-based General Motors took a step which is currently paying off - a move that Ford has not made or has not made yet. General Motors' Saturn Division is not as popular as it is today, but under General Motors' turnaround plan, the brand has become one of the fastest growing auto brands in the United States auto market.

General Motors has revitalized the Saturn lineup by partnering it with German automaker Opel. The latter is also a subsidiary of the Detroit automaker. By infusing European styling to the new lineup of the Saturn brand, General Motors successfully attracted the attention of many consumers and auto journalists and critics as well. In fact, the Saturn Aura which was designed in Europe is the reigning North American Car of the Year.

The working relationship between Opel and Saturn did not only give birth to the revitalized Aura but also to other new Saturn auto models. The new Saturn Outlook has European styling cues all over it. The redesigned Saturn Vue is based on the Opel Antara. The new Vue has been receiving lots of praises for its new look and better performance - the result of Opel's collaboration. Another Saturn auto model with undeniable European lineage is the upcoming Saturn Astra which is a rebadged version of the Opel Astra.

The working relationship between the two automakers has been beneficial for Saturn, not only for the European designs of their autos but also of their performance. The two General Motors marques may also be sharing other components. A may be used by an Opel auto or vice versa.

Now, General Motors' European connection includes Saab and Vauxhall aside from Opel. Although these European automakers cannot be regarded as mediocre, they would pale in comparison to Ford's European connection. FoMoCo still has Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo in its folds plus it still has shares in the ultra luxury brand Aston Martin.

If Ford emulates General Motors' initiative in bringing European styling to American cars, surely, the automaker can attract more consumers to their showrooms. With Volvo styling alone, Ford's American offerings can be at par with the revitalized Saturn lineup. In terms of performance, Jaguar and Aston Martin can provide good support for the automaker's American offerings.

But with Jaguar and Land Rover almost out of Ford's door, would an Opel/Saturn-like partnership be possible for FoMoCo? That is a question that many in the auto industry are still pondering on and only Ford can answer. Should Ford emulate General Motors or take its own route towards profitability? Emulating General Motors might gain Ford more attention, after all, the Ford Fusion Challenge has been adopted by General Motors for the Saturn Aura.

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