Ford’s CEO has cast doubt on the future of the mid-sized Escape SUV.
“We are not going to be playing in the two-row commodity SUV market because Ford’s tried that in the ICE business [and] it didn’t really work out for us,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley in an earnings call.
“We want to play our hand, our strength, [in] commercial, truck, larger vehicles on the category side.”
His remarks suggest the Escape could be on the chopping block, along with the larger Ford Edge (formerly sold here as the Endura) and its Lincoln Nautilus platform-mate.
Ford Authority reports the current Edge and Nautilus will exit production after the 2023 model year, though they’ll receive replacements in the Chinese market.
Production of the Edge and Nautilus will reportedly end at Ford’s Oakville assembly plant in Canada in favour of all-electric versions of the larger Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator.
It’s unclear what Mr Farley’s remarks mean for the Bronco Sport, a mid-sized SUV related to the Escape that was developed for the North American market and introduced in 2021.
The Escape is currently built in China, the United States and Spain, with subtle differences between the Chinese, North American and European-market models; the Escape wears the Kuga nameplate in Europe, and Australian-market models are sourced from the Spanish plant.
A facelift was revealed for the North American Escape last year, but a corresponding update to the Spanish Kuga/Escape has yet to be revealed. It’s unclear when this will come here.
Escape sales were up by 30.2 per cent in Australia last year, though with 2179 sales it was still outsold by the the Renault Koleos (2552 sales) and Volkswagen Tiguan (2658 sales).
Ford Australia president Andrew Birkic told CarExpert last year the Escape has been hobbled by supply chain issues but that these were easing, saying the company was “pretty confident with that vehicle”.
Ford announced last year it planned to have four electric SUVs in Europe by 2024: the existing Mustang Mach-E; an electric version of the Puma; and two vehicles based on Volkswagen’s MEB architecture.
The two MEB-based models are understood to be mid-sized like the Escape, and are also understood to be for the European market only.
The company says it doesn’t expect its EV range to be profitable until the second generation with CFO John Lawler stating “in the near term, our EVs will not be, on a bottom-line basis, EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) positive”.
Ford Australia has confirmed it will launch five electrified vehicles by 2024, though has only confirmed two of these to be EVs: the E-Transit van, here this year, and the E-Transit Custom van due next year.
MORE: Everything Ford Escape