I asked the question back in September: Does Alan Mulally (the new Ford CEO) have a better idea? Recently, he has answered the question definitively, and the answer is a resounding yes.
I complained a while back that Ford had just given up, lost creativity, and was basically flailing. In that post (here), I pointed out that Ford had had blatantly stolen the name of the Five Hundred SEL from the Mercedes Benz 500 SEL. This kind of lack of creativity just eats away at companies.
I also suggested that Alan Mulally was a super choice for the CEO. He’s a man who turned around Boeing’s Commercial Airplane Group and could do wonders for Ford. In the post here, I noted how he had hit the ground running. Well just the other day he took another great step forward.
One of the things that has just gnawed at me about Ford is how they have simply killed off brands for no apparent reason. They stopped making the Mustang for about 20 minutes earlier this century. This is the car that had the biggest start of any car in history, had a great following among the now aging and wealthy baby boomers, and yet some genius wanted to kill it. Well someone got smart, they reintroduced the current retro model, and it’s one of their strongest selling cars. Duh…
They also killed the Taurus. In case you don’t remember, the Taurus was a truly ground breaking car in the 1980s. It was the first car of the “bar of soap” aerodynamic shape trend at the time. In an era where cars were quite angular and edgy (literally), the Taurus shocked the automotive world with its wind-tunnel smooth design. The car was a huge hit, and at one point was the top selling car in the world.
But… like so many things seem to at Ford, the car atrophied. By the mid-1990s they had let the car wallow, refusing to choose to make the occasional radical redesign car lines require. Few people wanted to own a car with a decade old design. It faded into the oblivion of the rental fleets. Eventually Ford, seemingly mystified by languishing sales, killed the car just a few months ago. No one inside the company knew what to do with it, and no one outside the company appeared to notice.
Well Alan Mulally knew better, and he just announced that they are renaming the Five Hundred to be the Taurus. From what I hear, this was Alan’s idea and he pushed it through. And what a marvelous idea: capitalize on a brand name that was very strong and at the same time right the heinous wrong of the obvious plagiarism of the Five Hundred SEL name.
This appears to be just the start of Alan Mulally’s better ideas. You go Alan!