Automakers limit the combinations of options on new vehicles

#Ford, #Ford
2008 Ford Focus Assembly Line

The number of available options on new cars has been climbing in recent years. Is it time to simplify things?

When Alan Mulally started at Ford, there were 128 different choices for options on the console of the Lincoln Navigator. That's a huge increase in the number of options over the original Model T. Each of those options adds complexity to the production line and ordering process, and reduces profitability.

For 2008, Ford cut out 99 percent of the 100,000 different Focus configurations. The simplification adds profitability and many buyers won't notice the difference. A mere 4,000 combinations covered 80 percent of all Focus sales in the past. Other automakers are simplifying the number of buildable combinations, too.

Combining options into packages allows customers to still get the equipment they desire, but it cuts down on the number of possible combinations of a given vehicles. That simplification makes production more efficient and reduces the chance dealers will have a vehicle in a rare combination that nobody wants to buy. Nissan is going to rely on this strategy.

The number of platforms each automaker uses should also be shrinking. GM and Ford are moving to more versatile platforms in the coming years that will simplify production around the globe and cut down on research and development costs. Using one platform for a class of global vehicles saves lots of money for the automakers.

Would a reduction in the combinations of options upset you, or would it make buying a new car easier? Let us know in the comments.

Source: Automotive News (subscription required)

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