After a nearly-constant 34-year production run, the era of the Ford Taurus sedan has come to an end. Ford Motor Company’s (NYSE: F) final Taurus full-size sedan has rolled off the line at its assembly plant in Chicago. Over eight million of the cars have been built at the factory over the years.
Launched at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 1985, the Taurus sedan was the best-selling car in the U.S. by 1992. This was despite the new 1986 model being initially plagued by problems. Thousands of the cars were recalled a week after it debuted due to faulty ignition switches. More recalls followed for faulty window glass, surging and stalling engines, and transmission issues. More than half of buyers of new Tauruses reported significant problems.
Despite the difficulties, the Taurus was still named the 1986 Motor Trend Car of the Year. The Taurus went through six generations of design change throughout its life. Ford halted production of the model briefly over a decade ago when it shuttered the Hapeville plant near Atlanta in October of 2006. Ford resurrected the Taurus name a couple years later and gave it a proper rebirth in 2010.
The Taurus model ended up as Ford’s fifth best-selling nameplate, after, in order, the F-Series pickup, the Escort, the Fiesta, and the Model T. Then, sales of the sedan began to fall as more consumers turned to bigger vehicles. U.S. sales of full-size cars have fallen by a third in the last five years. Last year, about 51,000 Tauruses were made at the Chicago plant, compared to nearly 400,000 per year 20 years earlier.
Ford has announced that it is discontinuing all of its non-Mustang cars to focus on higher-margin crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. Ford intends to replace 75 percent of its lineup by the beginning of 2021.
The assembly workers in Chicago will not be losing their jobs. The Chicago assembly plant will now focus on making Explorer, Police Interceptor Utility, and Lincoln Aviator models. Ford has added 500 jobs and invested $1 billion in the facility in order to pump up production of those models.