Friday, October 27, 2006

Alas, Ford Taurus...

I'm not much of a "car person" to begin with. I've only owned three of them in my life, each purchased only because I needed it to get to work. None of my three cars - a rust-ridden, used Honda Civic; a modest Mercury Tracer; and a baby-boomer special New Beetle - was a Taurus. Still, I'm sorry to see the Taurus - and the jobs that went into making them - go.

But go they have. (Sales were well down from peak, as you can see in this graph.)

In any case, I rented Tauruses (Tauri?) on several occasions. And we had enough Fords when I was a kid that I'm kind of sentimental about the brand.

Forbes was very savage (and quite funny) in their commentary on the demise of the Taurus, trashing Ford for not keeping the Taurus - which had been a pretty good car: decent quality, good mileage - up to date:
By failing to evolve what was once the best selling car in America, Ford Motor has given this country ten years of unadulterated blandness, polluting highways, streets and back roads with an aesthetic so generic that any self-respecting teenager should instead choose a scooter or a pogo ball as an alternate means of transportation.
(Boy, am I glad I was never actually seen in one. And I thought my mother's Cutlass was a dud.)

The number of jobs that rolled off the assembly line with the last Taurus was about 2,000. That's a lot of pink slips, but nothing that those who work in the automotive industry haven't seen before and won't see again. Still, it will certainly amount to some misery and dislocation for those losing their jobs.

In googling around on the job losses, I found a NY Times article from 20+ years ago, that brings the Taurus job story full circle. This from May 1985:
The Ford Motor Company said it will place 2,000 hourly workers at its Atlanta assembly plant on temporary layoff beginning next week while the plant is being converted to build the company's new midsized front-wheel-drive cars, the Ford Taurus and the Mercury Sable.
I don't imagine Ford has 2,000 replacement jobs up its sleeve this time. But this still remains the land of boundless (more or less) opportunity. The last Taurus was bought by the founder of the Chick-Fil-A fast-food chain, who credits workers at the Taurus plant with helping to get his business off the ground. Maybe some of the pink-slipped workers can find work at a Chick-Fil-A franchise.

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