Some say he has a tattoo of an Saleen S7 on his rear end. Others tell us he was born with a penchant for oil rather than his mum's milk. All we know is he's called the Auto Insider and he's always ready to provide the scoop from the other side of Eight Mile.
If Wert wants to haul anything off to New Jersey, be they closet doors, furniture or the bodies of competing bloggers, he'll have to pick a new family truckster to do the deed. We've learned the 2009 model year should be the last for Ford's name-changing razor-bladed wagon. Taurus X, we hardly knew ya.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally recently said a redesign of the Taurus sedan will happen much sooner than originally planned. By sometime next year, Mulally said the next generation of the Taurus will move away from "Homer Simpson" and be more like what Ford "should have made originally." We've now learned from supplier sources that the wagon variant will not be part of this quick redesign. More importantly, sales of the Taurus X should cease within 14-18 months. We think this means the 2009 model year will be the last for the Ford once known as Freestyle. However, we won't be totally shocked if we end up getting a partial 2010 model year as the build-out of the Taurus X concludes.
Quite honestly, this move has us a little puzzled. Ford spent an F350 load of money just last year to freshen up the Ford Freestyle for the Chicago Auto Show. The Blue Oval also gave it a once-over on the face with a razor blade — or three — to give it the corporate "Hi, I'm Dave" front end. That's not normally the kind of move you make when death is knocking on the door. Strangely enough, one clue we can follow to explain this move is Mercury. As recently as the first quarter of 2006, a Mercury version of the Freestyle was planned. First, we were shown the Mercury Meta One concept at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show. Then actual prototypes started showing up during the Spring of 2006. But by late Summer of 2006, the Meta One had been deep-sixed. The business case for the Taurus X likely sunk right along with it.
Another reason for the demise of the Taurus X may be the forthcoming Ford Flex, a seven passenger vehicle Ford would much prefer consumers buy. With the Flex being an all-new program, Ford still has to pay for the vehicle development cost and from all indications, the feature-heavy model will have a higher profit margin than the less-than-optionable Taurus X.
So what Ford's done here is spend a few million bucks to refresh a vehicle only to cancel it a year into its life cycle. We're thinking there may have been better ways to spend that money. Perhaps a slightly more modern rear end for the Mustang? How about the forthcoming unibody Explorer? Haircuts for Mark Fields even? The opportunities were endless — unlike the Taurus X assembly line in less than two short years.