LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

The future of the Ford Edge crossover SUV and the Canadian plant where it is built may be in question.

That's according to automotive forecaster Sam Fiorani of Pennsylvania-based AutoForecast Solutions LLC, who told numerous media outlets he's heard from "multiple sources" in the automotive industry that Ford plans to cancel the Edge after the current generation model expires in 2023.

"We got word that Ford had canceled the program for the next-generation Edge," Fiorani told The Detroit News Tuesday. 

Prompted by media reports about the vehicle, which is built at Ford's Oakville plant in Ontario, Unifor, the trade union that represents hourly workers there, communicated with Ford officials Monday and Tuesday about the program. Unifor National President Jerry Dias told The News he did not get definitive answers, but said: "There is no question, they are going through a major evaluation of their portfolio, based on a whole host of things," including the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to questions about the Edge reports, Ford spokesman Said Deep said: "Edge remains a critical product in Ford’s winning portfolio of SUVs. We have no plans to exit the segment, particularly as Edge sales were up 3% to nearly 140,000 Edges in the U.S. last year."

Ford reports it has sold 1.6 million Edges in America since it launched in 2006, and noted that retail sales of the all-new Edge ST were up 41% last year. "We also are building on that success with launch of the Edge ST-Line, which is now available for order, plus an upgraded features for the 2021 Edge," Deep said.

Fiorani said the Dearborn automaker may be looking to reduce overlap in its lineup, particularly as it prepares to launch a number of new products in the next few years, including the returning Bronco SUV: "Their lineup seems to be very CUV and SUV-heavy, and it just seemed like there was a lot of overlap within the models. ... The potential of the Bronco Sport overlapping with the Edge, along with two or three other in the market in the near future, it made sense (to give) the Bronco Sport or any other model some breathing room.”

The mid-sized crossover segment is also a competitive one, he noted: "The Edge has been on the market since 2006, so it is one of the oldest players in the market. Breaking free of any tradition and moving on to a new nameplate would give Ford the potential of adding market share, whereas it would be much more difficult to do that with a legacy brand name."

The potential elimination of the Edge calls into question the future of Oakville Assembly, which dates back to 1953. Unifor said the plant, which is located between Toronto and Hamilton, employs about 4,200.

The plant has ceased building the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT and is also set to phase out the Lincoln Nautilus. That would leave the Edge as the plant's only remaining product, at least as of now.

As Unifor prepares to head into contract negotiations with Ford this fall, Dias remains optimistic that an agreement can be reached to keep the plant running.

"(Canada is) a strong market for Ford and always has been, and the Oakville plant is the last assembly plant they have in Canada," said Dias. "(Canadians) are loyal to the OEMs that are loyal to them. ... For Ford to leave Canada makes no sense."

He expects plans for the Edge to be a major point of discussion during collective bargaining: "Can I tell you what (a solution) looks like today? The answer is no. But I'm 100% focused on finding out what the solution looks like."

jgrzelewski@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @JGrzelewski

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/ford/2020/06/16/future-ford-edge-and-canadian-plant-where-its-built-question/3202636001/