The 2015 model year is scheduled to bring out big changes for the next generation of the Ford Mustang, and already some of the crankier talking heads are balking at the new design language. An article in the Wall St. Journal last week revealed what many of us had already assumed; the next Ford Mustang will steer away from retro and plunge into the new Kinetic design language seen on Ford’s new Focus, Fusion, and Escape models.
After suffering through more than a decade of the retro styling that was all the rage when Baby Boomers were spending more money than they had, I say it is about time the Mustang turns its eyes towards the future once more. Mustang sales are down, despite Ford reviving the 5.0 moniker and producing what is an all around exceptional performance vehicle. New emissions standards mean that the next-gen Mustang will have to get better fuel economy than any Mustang before it. And of course Ford wants to inspire and draw in a new generation of buyers, known as Generation Y, to the Mustang brand.
But as is so often the case, old people are up in arms that Ford wants to ditch the retro look and unite the Mustang within Ford’s common design language. Just read this uninformed piece over at ESPN, which declares that Ford’s EVOS Concept will be the next Mustang (it won’t). I expect more grumbling to come as the inevitable debut approaches, even though by now I expect most Baby Boomers who want, and can afford to own, a new Mustang have already done so.
To them I say; back off. Yes, Ford has a spotty history of remaking the Mustang, yet some of its greatest failures in the eyes of enthusiasts (see Mustang II, SN-95) were in fact top sellers, and all-around decent cars. Ford knows a lot rides on the next Mustang, for more reasons than one.
If Ford is unable to tap into the emerging Millennial market with a new Mustang, the brand could very well suffer a short with consumers. I hate to tell you Baby Boomers, but you aren’t going to live forever, and if Ford keeps making a Mustang that mostly appeals to old people, then the Mustang dies with your generation.
It is just that simple.
So what do Millennials want? Look at the Hyundai brand for that answer. They want a car that looks like it costs more than it does for one. They also want connectivity, hence Ford’s huge investment in SYNC and MyFord Touch infotainment systems. Fuel economy is also a top priority, and don’t be surprised if the next Mustang offers some kind of hybrid drivetrain.
Today the Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which at $4 a gallon isn’t even enough to fill up a car after a full eight-hour shift.
Sure, this may make Baby Boomers cringe, and the EVOS design language will not make everyone fall in love with it (even though many of the same people have praised the bold look of the 2013 Fusion). But when the Mustang first came out, gasoline cost about 25-cents a gallon, and minimum wage was around $1.25 an hour. In three hours of work at minimum wage you could afford to fill up your gas tank. Today the Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which at $4 a gallon isn’t even enough to fill up a car after a full eight-hour shift (never mind after taxes!).
Since 2005, Baby Boomers have had their every Mustang fantasy fulfilled while sales have dipped further and further. Truth be told, I have never liked the 2005-2009 Mustang, and while the 2010 refresh helped, as did the new engine lineup, the Mustang is no longer the cheap, affordable pony car it started life as. Furthermore, the language never spoke to me as a young person; it was too obviously meant for an older crowd. Why spend $30,000 on a new Mustang that copies the look of the original, when for half that I could just HAVE the original?
So if Ford really wants to attract my generation, they had better find a way to bring the starting price below $20,000.
I do not begrudge Boomers of their retro Mustang; I just won’t buy one. But with so many people hitting retirement age in the next few years, Ford knows that the market for the Mustang will be severely diminished if they don’t try to attract a younger crowd. This is common sense. Why would Ford move every model, save its most iconic, into a new design language? Why keep the Mustang retro while the rest of Ford’s lineup looks so futuristic?
It would be confusing as well as undermining the authenticity of the newly designed cars. CEO Alan Mulally’s “One Ford” plan couldn’t be clearer; the way forward is united, efficient, and global. That includes the Mustang.
I guess what I am saying is suck it up. Baby Boomers have gotten the sweetest parting gift Ford could ever give them; a 650 horsepower Shelby GT500. Boomers have an entire generation of Mustangs dedicated to the nostalgia of their youth, even though the Mustang was always designed to be a young person’s car. Now it is time for you Boomers to step aside, and let my generation take the wheel of the Mustang that WE want.