What Is Ford Risking with Changes to the 2015 Mustang?

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Amid the hubbub surrounding the world debut of the 2015 Ford (NYSE:F) Mustang, there was negative feedback coming from some circles of the auto industry. Muscle car lovers feared the effects of globalization on the classic American bruiser, and word of a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine offended many. In fact, Ford may lose some of its die-hard fanatics with its 2015 Mustang. The question is how many fans it will gain.

Members of the media have devoted much attention to Ford’s “global” approach with the 2015 Mustang, but the biggest manifestation of that approach is in the EcoBoost engine aimed at increasing efficiency. Apparently, Ford had a mind to pick up buyers around the world — where it plans to sell the Mustang for the first time — by giving them a more efficient engine. It will likely amount to a net gain of customers.

Yet customers don’t equal mystique. The idea of Steve McQueen tearing down the road the road in an efficient muscle car is unthinkable, and the Mustang has always been somewhat about danger, the unmistakable macho appearance, and sound. To quote Stephen Colbert, “The reason [the Mustang] became an icon is because it got you laid.” According to USA Today, Ford played up the Mustang’s sex appeal in its debut events in the United States.

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