DETROIT — With demand uncertain for big cars in the years ahead, Ford Motor Co. has dropped plans for new rear-wheel-drive sedans.
Ford design chief J Mays told Automotive News that plans for rwd Ford and Lincoln sedans have been shelved. "It's out of the cycle plan," he said.
Gasoline prices that soared to more than $4 a gallon in mid-2008 undermined the expected consumer demand for large rwd cars.
"We've got other priorities at the moment," Mays said. "We're going down a path right now that is all about fuel efficiency, and we've got a lot to do about that. So we're not talking about rear-wheel drive."
A year ago, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and product chief Derrick Kuzak said the new Ford and Lincoln rwd sedans would be coming.
By midyear, Kuzak said Ford was rethinking the program but hadn't discontinued it.
Analysts had expected U.S. sales of the rwd cars to begin with the 2013 model year. The platform was to be shared with a large car developed for Australia.
Mays said he was disappointed that the project had been canceled.
"I was very excited about it," he said. "I'll be darned if times didn't just change right before our eyes."