When Ford revealed the Mustang name and logo would get slapped onto a crossover it sent shockwaves through the Ford Mustang enthusiast community. Now, I’ve written a lot about the displeasure about this move, heck I even started a petition imploring Ford to change their mind. But this does not look like it’s going to happen, and honestly, I knew they wouldn’t back down from this move.
While I’m still not okay with it, and probably never will be, a closer look at this trend shows that Ford might actually be onto something.
Ford can financially gain from Mustang sub-brand
Stay with me here, I’m not doing an about face on my stance that Mustang is a pony car and not an SUV. But, financially, Ford is gambling with the world-renowned name and branding of Mustang and trying to turn it into a sub brand. I will argue that this wasn’t necessary and certainly didn’t need to be done regarding the beloved Mustang, but I also am not the decision maker at Ford.
Will GM follow suit with a Corvette crossover?
Indeed the fallout from the Mustang Mach E is felt beyond the Blue Oval and stretches throughout the automotive industry. Recently, CNBC did a financial breakdown of what sub-brands like Mustang could mean for Ford and other automakers. In fact, the CNBC story pointed to the financial likelihood that General Motors would create a sub-brand out of the just-as-cherished Corvette brand. This would certainly create the same kind of backlash among the Corvette enthusiasts as the Mach E did to the Mustangers.
Think about it, two cherished, iconic brands being used willy-nilly to develop crossovers, electric vehicles and other sub-brands within their own company. The C8 Corvette was revealed earlier this year and quite frankly it’s stunning. It’s one of the best-looking cars I’ve seen from GM in a very long time. Giving it a mid-engine was revolutionary for the Corvette brand. I haven’t driven one yet, but I look forward to it. Generally, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and the 2020 Corvette is a Car of the Year finalist, and I believe it will win that award.
From a business end, and let’s be honest the automotive industry is all about business, it makes financial sense to capitalize on such success. The Mustang, when you include merchandising, licensing and the car’s total sales numbers, is worth tens of billions to the Ford Motor Company, if not more. Equally, the Corvette is worth between $7 and $12 billion to GM, according financial analyst Adam Jonas, who was cited in the CNBC article. Parlaying that kind of value and name recognition could spawn an entire sub-brand of vehicles for Ford and GM. So it make some sense.
What Sells More, the Mustang or the Corvette?
Even though these two legendary cars are not competing in the same segment, the Mustang has outsold the Corvette by a lot throughout history. The Corvette is pricier and more of a niche vehicle than the Mustang. Even at its peak, the Corvette has never had the sales volume of the Mustang.
That being said, Mustang sales figures have been on the decline since 2015 when Ford sold 122,349. That same year GM only sold 33,329 Vettes. Sales for the Corvette have dropped every year since then too. This is indicative of the changing consumer attitude, where splurging on a more impractical is less of a priority. Rather, when today’s consumer splurges, it’s on a truck or SUV instead of an impractical “mid-life crisis” car. But, these declining numbers don’t mean that the Mustang or Corvette will stop being produced.
The Mustang and the Corvette will live on - but in what capacity?
Both GM and Ford have gone on record to continue their current iterations. But, Ford has dipped its toe, so to speak, in creating an off-shoot brand for the Mustang. Strapping the Mustang saddle onto a crossover seems gutsy and controversial. Maybe, just maybe, Ford is onto something. Will it stop at the Mach E or will we see a Mustang Ford Explorer, as is one rumor floating around?
Maybe GM jumps on board too and decides a Corvette crossover is needed. Creating these sub-brands might be good for the long-term viability of the brands and of the car makers, but it will take a lot of adjustment from the fans of these iconic brands. Some will get on board and some will protest. Me, I'm still in the protest stage>
By the way also read Torque News reporter Eric Way's story discussing how the EV community helped Ford design the Mustang Mach-E.
See you in my next story where I am discussing Ford vs Chevrolet rivalry and how it has created great cars and trucks over the years.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. In addition to being a nationally syndicated automotive columnist, Jimmy has been published in a compilation book about children growing up with disabilities, where he shared his own very personal experience. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.