These are interesting times we live in. While currently blessed with an absurd amount of horsepower and performance, available from virtually every manufacturer, we enthusiasts can see the writing on the wall. CAFE standards are about to go from strict to absurd, and like it or not we’ll be served up hybrid or turbocharged small displacement engine options as our only alternatives. Want a V8? Sucks to be you, because you’re not getting one for much longer, except in a select number of halo cars sold in low volumes at high prices.
With that in mind, I greet Automobile’s speculation that Ford is working on a modern supercar to replace the Ford GT with some skepticism. In fact, Automobile’s Eric Tingwall even admits that his theory is based on a vibe, and not on any sort of tangible proof. When asked by Tingwall, point blank, if Ford was working on a successor to the GT, Ford’s Derrick Kuzak (head of global product development) replied, “Well, I think there are certain things we don’t want to talk about in terms of four-year product plans, if that’s OK.” That hardly sounds like a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to me, but I wasn’t at the table so I can’t say for sure.
I did ask Ford’s J. Mays the very same question at last summer’s Ford Explorer reveal, and (ironically) got a very similar answer. It does Ford no good to talk about a car that may or may not exist and may or may not ever see the light of day. Did Nissan reap any benefit from announcing the Mid4, building excitement and then killing it off? How about Audi with their Avus concept, which remains perhaps the most stunning concept car ever designed? Ford executives have to have plausible deniability when it comes to super-secret-squirrel projects, because no one, not even Alan Mulally himself, knows what the future has in store for automakers.
It’s a wild ass guess, but I’ll say this: any halo supercar will require a sanity check of looming CAFE regulations. If the anticipated goal of 39 MPG by 2016 (for passenger cars) remains in place, Ford can’t afford to build a supercar, even a hybridized one. If the automakers can get some relief from the NHTSA, then I’d think there may be hope for a Ford GT replacement. This much is certain: it won’t use conventional drivetrain technology, and it won’t be affordable by mere mortals.