Ford was still the home of "better ideas," but by 1990 it was also home to some of America's most-popular and respected automobiles. The same was true of trucks -- important given the boom in light-truck demand that began in the mid-'80s and continued into the '90s and beyond. If anything, Ford was even more successful here than it was with cars. For example, 1982 saw the full-size F-Series pickup begin a long reign as America's top-selling vehicle of any kind.
Ford's Ranger (a 1982 newcomer) became sales king of compact pickups. Dearborn also scored big in the burgeoning sport-utility field with Explorer, the upscale 1991 four-door replacement for the two-door Ranger-based Bronco II. Ford did fumble with minivans, but not seriously. Though its new-for-'86 rear-drive Aerostar was way outpolled by Chrysler's front-drive models, sales were consistent and high enough that Ford stayed the Aerostar's planned 1994 execution, letting the older minivan run alongside the new front-drive Windstar.
By the mid-'90s, these truck successes added to the continuing popularity of Taurus and Escort to make Ford the sales leader in five vehicle segments: full-size pickups (F-Series), midsize car (Taurus), sporty-utility vehicles (Explorer), subcompact car (Escort), and compact pickup (Ranger). Moreover, Taurus took over as the country's top-selling car line in 1992 to end the Honda Accord's three-year reign, though not without cash rebates and other sales incentives.
With all this, Ford Division remained "USA-1" in the early '90s, selling well over a million cars a year and a like number of light trucks. Chevy did move about 40,000 more domestic cars in calendar '91, but that was the only time it surpassed Ford in these years.
Two different Dearborn regimes presided over this remarkable sales performance. First, Don Petersen handed over the chairman's gavel in 1990 to his one-time number-two, Harold A. "Red" Poling; at the same time, the president's job was reactivated after a two-year lapse for Phillip Benton, Jr. Both these men were Dearborn veterans, but they were merely a transition team, for late 1993 ushered in the worldly wise Alex Trotman as both president and chairman.
As a veteran of Ford Europe, Trotman brought a more-international outlook to the company's "Glass House" headquarters, which was soon populated by many of his European colleagues. One of their first projects was an ambitious corporate reorganization dubbed "Ford 2000." Announced in 1994, this aimed to mobilize all of the firm's global resources to further improve quality, shorten product development times, and achieve greater manufacturing efficiencies.
For more on the amazing Ford, old and new, see:
- Ford New Car Reviews and Prices
- Ford Used Car Reviews and Prices