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The Ford Edsel : An Auto Industry Disaster In Car Design And Automobile Marketing

Dec 22, 2007
. To call a car or any product an "Edsel" is to provide the worst of insults. The Edsel was a car designed and manufactured by the Ford Motor Company of Dearborn - in the late 1950's. 157, 1958, 1959 to be exact. The debacle of the Edsel was both one of the most spectacular and worst failures to befall the vibrant American automobile industry of that day. To call a car or any product an "Edsel" is to provide the worst of insults.

Some authorities will state that the reason for the Edsel's failure was just poor market timing, not a poor product. Timing can be said to be most everything - vital for the success of failure of any product. In those days, before computerization allowed for rapid sharing an interchanges of design and the car design process - everything was done on paper. It took great amount of physical logistics and delays for the paperwork and blueprints to be sent and coordinated among the various players in the automobile design process. On top of that it seemed that "everyone "seemed to despise and those further down the line. The designers disliked their bosses and the engineers. The engineers hated the parts people etc etc etc. On top of that the name "Ford "was on the door signifying the ultimate authority in the car designs and marketing process. The Edsel project was initiated during a time of big cars - from G.M. the market leader , yet introduced many years later when the concept of a second car , a compact car, for the wife to drive the family and kids around was beginning to be established in the automobile marketplace

Other authorities will state that the reason for the poor market showing and demise of the Edsel was that it was just a poor product - poorly designed and poorly built. To further corroborate this viewpoint it is now known that the actual workers building the Edsels were none too happy building this model. The Edsel was not built on its dedicated Ford Division production line but rather the Edsel was built (or shared space) on Ford Mercury Division production line. These Mercury Division employees considered themselves as the luxury end of the Ford Car company entities and indeed saw themselves as a cut above the run of the mill Ford employee and workers.

They both resented the intrusion into their turf as they say it and as well felt that a Ford product was muscling into their terrain - that of more prestige vehicles. In the end the marketing and sales failures of the Ford Edsel can be said to be a combination of both factors.

Interestingly enough the unspoken order from the Ford family was that the new product - the "1958 Edsel" was to be named anything but Edsel. The late Edsel Ford was the founder Henry Ford's only son and the grandfather of the then current patriarchs commanding and directing the Ford Empire. The senior Ford even stated that he did not want to see his late grandfather's name spinning around on hubcaps. The design development process had worked with the "E" or "Experimental" Car. Since it was such a major and revolutionary product of Ford many assumed that the designation "E" car had of course stood for Edsel. How better to honor such a major figure in the Ford family and empire. Imagine if the name had not stuck. Would it of made a difference in the ultimate success or failure of the sales and marketing of this automobile product.
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