Few things are more classically American than a Ford Mustang, the Pony car that spawned dozens of imitators after it was launched in 1964. And today's Mustang still bears strong resembles to the original, part of a years-long attempt by Ford to ride a retro trend that saw baby boomers buying Volkswagen Beetles and Chevrolet Camaros. But all that is about to change, says Mike Ramsey at The Wall Street Journal. Ford is planning a sleeker, "European" look for its new Mustang, in a bid to attract younger consumers who have less affection for muscle cars of yore. The new Mustang will reportedly launch in 2014, and will likely look like a Ford Fusion or the Evos model that was unveiled by Ford in late 2011. Will the Mustang's new look backfire?
Ford might destroy an iconic brand: "This is a scary moment for Ford, and it really needs to tread carefully," says Justin Cupler at TopSpeed. The last time Ford tried to remake the Mustang — the zippy Mustang II in the 1970s — it "nearly killed off the Mustang name altogether." The Mustang is a "muscle car," and Ford would be wise not to stray too far with its makeover.
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But the Mustang's style is getting old: The automotive world's retro trend may have "finally run its course," says Paul A. Eisenstein at MSNBC. Ford is facing "increasingly stringent fuel economy standards" in the U.S., and intense competition outside North America, necessitating not only a new look, but a new paradigm. "There are even rumors of a Mustang hybrid." Ford does risk "a tidal wave of opposition from traditionalists," but a younger generation might "be more accepting" of a toned-down Mustang.
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And Ford has to move beyond baby boomers: The average Mustang buyer is 51 years old, and is considered a "near-luxury" consumer in "terms of spending habits," says Mike Ramsey at The Wall Street Journal. While baby boomers are "still an important demographic," fueling sales in minivans and SUVs, "that generation is near the end of its run as hard-charging car consumers." Ford and others face the difficult challenge of tapping into Generation Y — those born in the 80s and 90s — many of whom are less excited about owning cars than their parents.
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