The Taurus Could Rise Again At Ford

Ford CEO Alan Mulally as a fan of the recently discontinued Taurus, so much so that he recently rented one while traveling to check it out. Mulally, who joined Ford from Boeing last September, became a fan of the Taurus 20 years ago when he studied Ford’s production system for the car for a project he was doing at the aircraft company. “I havent had time to do the deep dive on why we stopped investing in Taurus, but I’d like to,” says Mulally…..the Ford Five Hundred should have been the new Taurus.”

The day after Mulally said this, Ford Division’s new marketing chief Barry Engle was kvetching about the fact that the Fusion is a name known only to 30% of buyers in the mid-size car segment, the name having been launched just a year ago. Asked why Ford doesn’t rename the Fusion or the Five Hundred “Taurus,” Engle said, “Stranger things have happened.” “I don;t know why we invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a name over 20 years and then walk away from it,” he added.

Ford’s naming skills are comical. Mulally joked this week that he was still looking for his Lincoln Zephyr to drive. Of cource, the Zephyr name was dropped in favor MKZ for this model year. Even Ford sales analysis chief George Pipas referred to the Zephyr in this week’s sales call before correcting himself.

Ford got down on the Taurus name because they all knew that they had damaged the name after so many years of botched design and no investment, and then by turning the car into a rental donkey. But I’m not sure I wouldn’t be tempted to ditch the Five Hundred name and give it the Taurus badge with a whole new positioning. Given how Ford has screwed up the marketing of the Five Hundred, I could think of worse ideas than rechristening it Taurus.

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