Sting and Laser/Tracer, one a Mazda, the other a Ford, but take off the badge and it’s the same vehicle. This will not be happening in the future as Ford has ended badge engineering in SA.

Sting (pictured below) and Laser/Tracer (pictured right), one a Mazda, the other a Ford, but take off the badge and it’s the same vehicle. This will not be happening in the future as Ford has ended badge engineering in South Africa.

Ford also used badge engineering with the Ford Spectron and Mazda Marathon minibuses, the Ford Fiesta and Mazda Soho, Rustler and Bantam, the Ranger and the B-Series Drifter.

Ford chief executive Deborah Coleman Stewart told CAR magazine that badge engineering was over. Ford and Mazda had their own distinct brands now.

“I think you are starting to see part of the broad separation now. The Ford brand will deliver very specific attributes for people shopping for Ford “no boundaries” type of products and the Mazda brand will appeal to people shopping for the “Zoom Zoom” experience. And no badge engineering,” she said in the interview.

Ford spokesman Craig von Essen told CARtoday.com it had not been viable previously to market the two brands separately. “Globally the Ford and Mazda brands have always been considered separate brands with unique product offerings. During 1987, when the Ford South Africa and Amcar operations merged to form Samcor it was not a viable proposition to market and distribute two independent carlines, but it was nevertheless essential that we offered a viable business case to our Ford and Mazda dealers. Hence the decision to share common platforms.

“This was not unique to South Africa and was based on similar strategies being implemented elsewhere in the world.

“The strategy to separate the Ford and Mazda brands by adopting independent platforms began during 2000,” he said.

Von Essen said the first step towards creating independent brands started with the Mazda Soho being discontinued in 2000. Ford also took the Laser and the Spectron off the market last year. “The intention is to continue to offer both Mazda and Ford products to the market and complement each other rather than directly,” he said.

Von Essen said badge engineering had worked well. “The manufacturer was able to offer a range of Ford and Mazda products relatively affordably during a very difficult period. Unfortunately, a side effect was that loyal Ford and Mazda customers felt we had let them down and we need to win them back.

“The introduction of the Ford Focus, the Ford Mondeo, the Mazda MX-5 and a number of new products to be introduced in due course will show our potential Ford and Mazda customers that we are serious about restoring the integrity of the two brands,” said Von Essen.

"Some of the vehicles will still share components, but will be distinctly different and strongly differentiated," he said.

For more on Ford’s future plans and models that may come to South Africa read the September 2002 issue of CAR magazine.

What are your thoughts on badge engineering?