Ford and the other domestic automakers have lost the edge in the family sedan segment to the Japanese automakers. After years as bit players, though, cars are taking center stage in Ford Motor Co.'s product developmentpriorities, according to New York Newsday
.New sedans and other car-based vehicles are coming to lure a large chunk of mainstream consumers back to Ford showrooms. The aim isto bring Honda Accord and Toyota Camry buyers into the Ford fold with such sedans as the 2005 Ford Five Hundred and the 2006 Ford Futura, New York Newsday
said.The Ford Taurus, once the best-selling car in the United States, still is sold in high numbers - 332,690 in 2002 - but 60 percent of its sales are to fleet buyers, New York Newsday
reported.Retail customers are pulled to showrooms with huge rebates, not attractive got-to-have vehicles. "If we're ever going to accomplish what we need to accomplish in market share gains, we've got to do it through product, and I think the car side needs some help," said Sam Pack, a Texas Ford dealer with three stores in metropolitan Dallas-Fort Worth.Ford executives say that help is coming, according to Newsday
. The automaker is billing next year as the "year of the car" at Ford, with the new 2005 Five Hundred and companion Mercury Montego sedan, redesigned 2005 Mustang, and its supercar, the Ford GT. The car-based Ford Freestyle sport wagon alsodebuts.