2011 Ford Mustang V-6. Photo: Anne Proffitt.
Ford could sell more 2012 Mustangs, if only they could produce more 3.7-liter V-6 engines. The Mustang is yielding sales ground to the new Camaro on a monthly basis, thanks in part to strong demand for the V-6 version of Ford’s F-150 pickup. The Ford F-150 and the Ford Mustang share the same V-6 powerplant, and Ford sells a lot more F-150s than they do Mustangs. In 2010, Ford moved 73,716 Mustangs; by comparison, the automaker sold over half a million F-Series trucks. If you’re a product planner, which line gets a higher priority for engine supply?
The recent announcement that Mazda is pulling out of the Flat Rock, Michigan plant shared with Ford only makes matters worse. Ford builds the current Mustang in Flat Rock, alongside the Mazda6. With Mazda gone, there isn’t enough volume at the plant to make operations profitable, at least according to Jeff Schuster, an automotive analyst with J.D. Power and Associates. Discussing the current Mustang versus Camaro battle, Schuster told Automotive News, “The Mustang on its current sales pace isn’t enough to sustain Flat Rock. The Camaro has a more modern feel and seems to draw more attention from a younger age group.”
Life won’t get easier for the Mustang any time soon, as Chevrolet will debut a more powerful and more fuel efficient V-6 in the 2012 Camaro. Supply shortages on the Mustang’s V-6 have trimmed inventory to less than a 30 day supply, and that’s only half what Ford had in the pipeline at this time last year. Demand for the V-6 Mustang has risen from 40 percent of sales in 2010 to 51 percent of sales today, thanks in part to higher gasoline prices and the V-6 model’s superior fuel economy.
A new Mustang is in the works, but it’s not scheduled to be introduced until 2014, corresponding with the car’s 50th anniversary. Ford says the new Mustang will be a world car, and not having to share the Flat Rock plant with another manufacturer will give them greater flexibility on Mustang production. Whatever happens, this much is clear: the Mustang is an American icon, and it’s not going away anytime soon.