Fairlane appearance scrapped
BY SARAH A. WEBSTER
DETROIT FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
Ford Fairlane Concept
Photo by Autoindex.org
The production version of the Ford Fairlane concept vehicle will not be shown at the Detroit auto show -- contrary to expectations that it would be there.
The Free Press has reported several times that the vehicle would be on hand. Even the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which hosts the North American International Auto Show, thought the vehicle would be displayed.
But Ford said it never planned to display the concept at the show in Detroit in January.
"We have had a plan for some time and that plan has not changed," said Ford spokeswoman Sara Tatchio.
Tatchio said the Detroit auto show does not correspond with the manufacturing schedule for the production version of the Fairlane concept. She said it would be shown at a later date.
The production version of the Fairlane is expected to be Ford's attempt to reinvent the category of family vehicles once crowded by minivans. It's expected to hit showrooms in 2008.
Local Ford dealer Bob Thibodeau, the senior cochairman of the North American International Auto Show, said he thought the Fairlane would be on hand for local consumers to review this year.
"I would like to be able to tell you what the story is there, because my list had that," he said, noting he heard only Monday that it wouldn't be at the show.
He also noted that Ford has been showing a version of the Fairlane at its Showroom of the Future event at Cobo Center, where the company is trying to bolster its outlook by confidentially revealing upcoming models.
Jim Hall, vice president of industry sales at AutoPacific, said he never expected the production version of the Fairlane to be shown in Detroit because of its manufacturing schedule.
"The last thing you want to do is show a vehicle too early because it'll kill sales of your current vehicles," he said. "They still have to get a year of sales out of the Freestyle," a family-oriented crossover.
Hall, who worked with Ford on the Fairlane and signed an agreement to keep aspects of the vehicle confidential, said the Fairlane won't look like the concept shown in Detroit in 2005.
"If you thought the concept was boxy, the production version won't be," he said.