Posted by Dale Buss on April 18, 2012 12:57 PM
Ford is pursuing the Millennial generation these days like the rest of the global auto industry. But so far the carmakers' love largely has gone unrequited by a car-reluctant cohort.
Now, Ford hopes that a new Mustang can keep wooing Generation Y the way that its new Ford Fiesta did when it debuted a couple of years ago. Ford design chief J Mays has been telling folks for a while that the 2014 Mustang will comprise perhaps the nameplate's sharpest departure ever from the "pony car" that first excited the baby boomers a half-century ago under the guidance of then-Ford executive Lee Iacocca.
The company will have to be cautious. In the 1970s, after mistakenly believing that the appeal of the original, muscular, blockish Mustang design had run its course with the car market, Ford introduced a vastly diluted design and called it Mustang II.
The car was "a disaster ... after years of heart-pounding pony cars," writes Chris Woodyard in USA Today. "Fans considered the Mustang II a weakling unworthy of the brand name."
And certainly there's a lot to be said to automakers playing out the retro string for as long as boomers — the watershed generation as far as automotive enthusiasm is concerned — still can get driver's licenses. Volkswagen keeps coming out rather successfully with new Beetles; Chevrolet had a recent hit with a Camaro that hearkened back decades ago; and Dodge keeps selling its retreaded muscle cars like the Challenger no matter what gasoline prices do.
Yet Mays and other executives keep pointing out that Ford and its rivals must not forsake Milleannials no matter how hard they are to influence toward cars instead of smart phones. As a generation, they're about the same size as the massive boomers, and are already proving that they can be as influential. So Mays promises that new new Mustang will retain the venerable nameplate's DNA yet be vastly improved, maybe with a European design influence, and certainly with a vastly improved interior.
Because Millennials are one horse the Mustang nameplate, whatever its shape, must ride.
Below, one way Ford recently wooed Millennials with the 2013 Mustang — a co-branded event marketing tie-in with Maxim, co-hosting an after-party in L.A. for the Academy Awards: