COLOGNE, Germany - Ford Motor Co. may replace its Scorpio in 2001 with a car based on the Mondeo platform.
The final decision will rest on market research, said a highly placed Ford source in Germany. If Ford uses the Mondeo platform, the Scorpio replacement would be positioned below the current model.
'The next-generation Scorpio is going to be something that is designed to fit into the market segment we think is most viable in Europe,' said Bob Rewey, Ford group vice-president of marketing and sales. 'The market segment the Scorpio is in right now has shrunk somewhat.'
Rewey would not say which platform the Scorpio successor would use. But two top-level Ford sources in Europe said it would almost certainly be a front-wheel-drive stretched Mondeo.
The current Scorpio is in decline: 25,000 were sold in 1996, down from 40,000 in 1995. In 1991 its predecessor, the Granada, sold 25,000 units in the UK alone.
The Scorpio competes against the GM Omega, Renault Safrane and Peugeot 605.
The current platform was introduced in 1985 and facelifted in 1994. A station wagon was added in 1993.
After Ford reorganized under Ford 2000, it appeared that any Scorpio replacement would be based on a platform designed by Ford's large-car vehicle center in the US. Using the Mondeo platform lets European engineers develop the European flagship.
A Ford insider said four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines would be carried over from both the Mondeo and the Scorpio. Both vehicles received updated engines last year. US engineers are developing a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine for the Mondeo platform that would be the Scorpio's top engine.
Ford had considered importing an all-new, rear-wheel-drive luxury car based on the upcoming DEW98 platform.
This platform, due in 1999, will also be used for a smaller Jaguar and an entry-level Lincoln.
That plan has lost favor, said a Ford source.
New luxury taxes and fuel taxes in Germany have reduced the luxury market for volume makers such as Ford. Luxury makers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi haven't been hurt as much.
Some insiders feared that a DEW98 Scorpio replacement would have taken sales from Jaguar.
An inside source said Will Boddie is behind the reassessment of Ford's European large-car strategy. Boddie has been chairman of Ford Werke AG, the German subsidiary, since August 1996.