Ford is finally killing off the slow-selling Flex wagon/SUV/minivan, or at least it will by 2020. That’s the word from the Detroit Free Press, which spoke with the Canadian auto workers union Unifor after the plant that manufactures the Flex inked a new deal with Ford.
The Flex, which was introduced to the market in 2008 as a 2009 model, has always inhabited a gray and murky place in the market. Like the dead Honda Element, Nissan Cube, and Scion xB, the Flex called itself one thing – in this case an SUV – but never quite fit with the other vehicles under that label. Ford hoped the Flex would appeal to shoppers who wanted minivan practicality without the stigma that comes from driving one. It seems people didn’t want a big, boxy wagon either.
The Flex’s unique styling never appealed to crossover shoppers who continue to flock to vehicles more like Ford’s Escape and Explorer. Like the Element, Cube, and xB, the pseudo-wagon never really caught on in America, no matter how practical the vehicle may be. Different can be good, but only in the right market. Ford sold 16,667 Explorers in September of this year. The Flex sold 17,034 over the first nine months of 2016. Even in its best year, 2009, the Flex failed to post 40,000 in sales.
Ford is most likely killing off the Flex to make room for one of the four new SUVs the automaker has planned. And as much as we like like the Flex, we’re not the ones who must make a business case for the vehicle. So, pour out one for the weird ones, because we always like it when an automaker at least attempts something different.