Ford Pulls Plug on Luxury Pickup
Monday June 24, 2:58 PM EDT
DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co. (F) said on Monday that the Lincoln Blackwood luxury pickup truck will go out of production later this summer, after one of the shortest runs for a mass market vehicle in the history of the modern auto assembly line.
"The way we've evaluated the program at this point, it doesn't makes sense for us to go forward with it," said Jeremy Barnes, a spokesman for Ford's Lincoln division.
Confirming a report that first appeared in industry weekly Automotive News, Barnes said "a very, very small quantity" of 2003 models of the four-door truck would be built before production ends in August.
But like the ill-fated Edsel, which Ford produced in the late 1950s, critics say the Blackwood is something that never should have seen the light of day.
Ford had initially hoped to sell up to 10,000 Blackwoods a year when the vehicle went on sale last November. But Barnes said only about 900 were expected to have sold through the end of this month.
With a price tag of nearly $53,000, the Blackwood was aimed at the top end of the lucrative U.S. pickup segment.
It was plagued by quality and production issues from day one, however. And marketing problems included the vehicle's lack of four-wheel drive, popular among buyers in the snow belt. Like Henry Ford's old Model T, it also only came in black.
Other factors which industry analysts have blamed for killing sales of the Blackwood included its truck bed cover, or tonneau, which was power operated but virtually impossible to remove or lift high enough to store large cargo items.
And the truck bed itself -- carpeted and lined with brushed aluminum and flashy LED display lights -- looked fine for hauling golf clubs or a suitcase but nothing that might leave a stain.
"This vehicle was never really given serious consideration by engineers or at least certainly by people that would use it on a daily basis," Art Spinella, head of Bandon, Oregon-based, industry tracking firm CNW Marketing Research, said in a recent interview.
"It was an orphan from day one."
(Thanks to Falchoon for the article)