Edsel auto industrys legendary disaster

В рубриках: Automobile | Автор: admin 03.08.2010

Edsel: Auto Industry’s Legendary Disaster

If you are to ask auto experts what is the legendary disaster in the industry, they would probably mention the Edsel – not a person, not a car, but a defunct Ford division.

Summer of 1957 was a milestone for the Ford Motor Co. It marked the start of a big ad campaign that had ticked the Americans’ fancy. The Dearborn-based automaker decided to offer a new car division and the company has advertised it heavily. The new division is offering product lines that are not that common.

To note, that time the last one to be set up in an American auto company was the manufacturer of the Saturn multi rib belt, a division of General Motors Corp. But Ford’s freshly established division was enough to raise interest among consumers. Shoppers thought Edsel was new and would be exciting. The marketing campaign of the automaker has lured consumers by showing them nothing about the new division’s lineup. The ad only shows a hood ornament or a car underneath a tarp.

The ad campaign was such a hit. This has made consumers look forward to seeing the forthcoming fresh lineup. Sept. 4, 1957 arrived. That was the scheduled launching of the cars. The consumers, excited about the new cars, visited Edsel dealership nearby to take a glimpse of the new offerings from the auto giant.

But the moment they saw the lineup, excitement died. As such, the great disaster was the fact that no one was purchasing. And that marked the beginning of the end for the Ford division.

Edsel was a solid proof that outstanding marketing campaign does not always result in overwhelming profits. As a fact, it could mean injurious loss. Though it is hard to determine how the auto disaster happened – a successful ad campaign enticing no shoppers – the fact stays. It happened. And it could happen in the future.

Edsel’s failure could be likened to Segway’s plight. Marshall Brain of How Stuff Works has this to say: “One thing we might compare it to was the launch of the Segway six years ago. Remember the huge amount of hype that surrounded the Segway? The Segway was going to change the world, but no one knew what the Segway was. Then, on the day of announcement, we all saw that the Segway was a scooter.”

Brain added, “Sure, it was a self-balancing scooter and that was cool. But there was no way the Segway could match the hype that preceded it, and everyone was disappointed. That is exactly the kind of thing that happened to the Edsel.”

Ford’s defunct division had some notable features. But the features weren’t enough to lure shoppers into purchasing. “The look of the car was definitely unique, with a huge grill shaped like the letter ‘O.’ And the automatic transmission was controlled by buttons located in the centre of the steering wheel. It was just kooky enough to turn people off rather than to turn them on. Also, people were expecting something completely new, while in reality the Edsels were built on top of an existing Ford chassis. That was not very exciting to people,” noted Brain.

Next month, watchers in the industry will commemorate the lesson behind the Edsel tragedy. Some experts blame it to the untimely launch date. Others put the blame on the size and kookiness of the car. A number of critics blame it on quality problems. But the combination of all those things made Edsel collapse.

The word Edsel has become synonymous with failure. A terrible failure every automaker must consider in order to prevent it from recurring.

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