Before Ford launched its 'demand to delivery' program two years ago, each Ford model typically had several million buildable variations.
Under the program, designed to simplify ordering, procurement and manufacturing, Ford cut that number to 'several hundreds of thousands,' according to Ford spokesman Dave Reuter.
With the new Ford Mondeo, that number is being slashed to 'tens of thousands' - and possibly as low as 40,000, Reuter said.
The new Mondeo continues refining the process started with Focus: building a car that is both simpler yet more sophisticated at the same time.
That means that more Mondeos will come fully loaded because Ford believes that's the way customers want them. Air conditioning, for example, will be standard instead of an option, eliminating many hundreds of multiples from the arithmetic.
Side airbags, dual driver and passenger airbags and antilock brakes, optional in many markets in the past, will now be standard.
'It creates huge efficiencies,' said Reuter. 'Your suppliers don't have to stock as many different parts. Your manufacturing plant employees don't have to learn how to build so many variations. The lower your buildable combinations, the higher the probability you'll have a higher quality product. You're taking variability out of the system.'
Nigel Griffiths, industry analyst for the London office of Standard & Poor's DRI, said manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz offer to build their cars with virtually anything customers want. It's just a matter of how it is all packaged.
'One disadvantage of the Ford approach,' he said, 'is that it becomes more difficult to distinguish between the different trim levels of the vehicle. Traditionally Ford would have the L, GL and Ghia trim options.'
Griffiths said making more options standard could make it tougher for the customer to tell the difference between the base model and the Ghia.