Ford announced it will launch four new nameplates to its global SUV lineup during the course of the next four years, according Mark Laneve, the company’s vice president of Marketing, Sales

and Service. He also noted these new SUV offerings would be in segments in which company currently does not compete, although he stopped short of confirming that all four vehicles would turn up in U.S. showrooms.

SUV shift inevitable

LaNeve justified the aggressive move by citing Ford market research. “As members of the 80-million-strong millennial age group enter their prime child-rearing years -- a leading indicator of more SUV sales -- nearly 80 million aging baby boomers continue to prefer their SUVs.” Ford data found that once a millennial thinks about starting a family, their interest in the segment rises significantly. “It’s a demographic double whammy and it all points to one thing – more SUVs for the foreseeable future.”

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Other factors influencing the ongoing migration to SUV/crossover models include their greater practicality, easier entry/exit, superior outward visibility and increased fuel efficiency, which is further bolstered by the current cheaper gasoline prices. LaNeve also pointed out that many baby boomers also are embracing SUV ownership simply because driving one makes them feel younger and more active and that even if fuel prices rise, people will merely opt for a smaller SUV rather than a conventional sedan.

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So what are the automaker’s most likely candidates? Although Ford is in desperate need of a subcompact SUV to compete with vehicles like the Chevy Trax and Honda HR-V, it’s all but confirmed a revised version of the diminutive EcoSport currently on sale in other markets will be coming here at some point but is not destined to be one of these “new” players. We’re far more likely to see a return of the Bronco name on an equally rugged off-road oriented Ford model and a Lincoln-badged SUV that will slot between the Navigator and the MKX. There are rumors Lincoln might see one additional new face appear in its lineup, but a Ford source we spoke with noted it was no accident LaNeve included the word “global” in his statement so we’ll just have to wait a bit to see what transpires and where.

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