In June, Auto Forecast Solutions put out a report compiled by its vice president of global forecasting, Sam Fiorani. One item in the report covered how Fiorani had heard from “multiple sources” that Ford shut down the program to replace the Edge crossover in 2023. Assuming this came to pass, with the Lincoln Nautilus based on the Edge, the inference is that the Nautilus would retire at or around the same time. Ford’s response to media queries about the report was either “No comment” or PR-speak deflection. Lincoln’s statement on the matter to Motor1, a crafty non-answer, was, “The Nautilus plays and will continue to play an important role in Lincoln’s growing SUV portfolio which includes the Corsair, Aviator and Navigator. Lincoln is investing in growth segments like SUVs and we have no plans to exit the segment.” It’s possible Lincoln has no plans to leave the segment, but the Nautilus might, according to a fresh, unsourced report in Ford Authority. The site claims the Nautilus will end production at the Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada, in July 2024.
Again, we can’t know how much, if any of this, is true. But we’re zeroing in on a timeline for the potential end of the Edge and Nautilus in the U.S. Those are the only two products Oakville currently builds, and when the Canadian union Unifor asked Ford about the reports in June, Ford couldn’t offer union reps anything concrete or reassuring. The Detroit News quoted Unifor chief Jerry Dias as saying of the automaker, “There is no question, they are going through a major evaluation of their portfolio, based on a whole host of things.”
We could be seeing one of the earlier theories for Edge’s potential demise coming true. Some analysts suspect Ford could be pruning its crossover lineup because it has too many similarly-sized offerings at the moment, the Edge hasn’t met its sales targets in Europe, and more compact crossovers are on the way that could bring better street cred if they’re associated with the Bronco or Bronco Sport.
Unifor and Ford are now in negotiations over a new contract, so it’s possible we’ll get more clarity in the next month or so about Ford’s plans and what will come of Oakville and its roughly 4,000 workers. If Ford walks away from the assembly plant, it will only have two engine plants left in Canada, and no vehicle assembly north of the border for the first time in about a century. It’s possible Edge production for the North American market moves to Ford’s Changan Hangzhou Plant, which currently builds the Edge and the Ford Taurus for that China. It’s likewise possible that Nautilus production goes across the Pacific. Or the end of the road for both models could be no more than four years away.