The next-generation Ford Mustang is expected to be the first Mustang to shy away from its past as Ford attempts to entice younger buyers into the iconic Pony car.
While manufacturers have targeted baby boomers with recreations of hero cars from yesteryear – like the Holden Monaro, Ford Falcon GT, VW Beetle – the sales of some ‘retro’ cars is on the decline, meaning a shift to a younger audience may be required.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Ford is working on a significant design overhaul for its signature Mustang that will see the next iteration keep the classic shark-nosed grille and round headlights but adopt an overall look closer to that of the new Ford Fusion.
The goal is to shift the appeal of the Mustang away from baby boomers and toward Generation Y – those born between 1980 and 1999 – as Ford believes this generation is reaching their peak car-buying years rather than their parents’ generation.
“You cannot sustain sales without looking for new buyers. True, you are going to lose sales, but you need to refresh the population of buyers,” Strategic Vision analyst Alexander Edwards told the Wall Street Journal.
Strategic Vision is a Californian research company that helps manufacturers understand why customers choose the vehicles they do. Edwards says the current average Mustang buyer is 51 years old.
The Gen Y market could prove difficult to crack as performance and brand heritage take a back seat to technologies such as EVs, hybrids, iPhones and iPads and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Driving itself has become a lower priority for younger people with a 2011 study by the University of Michigan finding that just 65 per cent of 18-year-olds had their driver’s licence in 2008, down from 80 per cent in 1983.
Mustang sales have been on a steady decline too with Ford selling 70,438 last year, down 4.4 per cent on 2010, and less than half of the 166,530 units it sold in 2006.
The new Mustang could be released in 2015 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original Pony car, and with suggestions that it will mirror the Ford Evos concept car (pictured top) unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show, Ford runs the risk of displeasing many while striving to entice the few.
Regardless, with the new Mustang’s development under the ‘One Ford’ strategy, some are already speculating about the possible wider implications of having shared components, technologies, engines and platforms.
With One Ford compliance presenting the option to produce both left- and right-hand-drive models, potential could exist for a platform for the next generation 2016 Ford Falcon here in Australia.
Since Ford’s discontinuation of the Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town Car, the Mustang is Ford’s only rear-wheel drive passenger vehicle produced in the US.