The Ford Edsel, with its outsized grill making the front-end look like a waspy insect, was introduced by the Ford Motor Company in 1957. It was named after Edsel Ford, the son of founder, Henry Ford. Unfortunately, his first name and the namesake line of automobiles was a failure. It became a punchline in American business lore. This tarnished the memory of a pretty decent guy. The Edsel proved to be another colossally bad brand in branding history.
Ford Motor Company had gone public only a year earlier, and they introduced a whopping 18 models of the Edsel in 1957. This was done in part to keep up with the increasing diversity of the offerings from General Motors and Chrysler. Aside from its unattractive appearance, here are some of the reasons the new line “laid an egg”:
Overhyped Marketing: Ford invested heavily in the marketing and advertising of the Edsel, creating high expectations among the public. However, the car failed to live up to the hype, leading to disappointment and negative reviews.
Design Flaws: The Edsel had a distinctive, controversial design that did not appeal to many consumers. It was also plagued with technical issues, such as faulty transmissions, which led to a poor reputation for reliability.
Economic Recession: The late 1950s saw an economic recession, which caused many consumers to tighten their belts and cut back on spending. This made it difficult for Ford to sell the Edsel, which was positioned as a premium car with a higher price point than many other models.
Brand Confusion: The Edsel was positioned as a new brand within Ford’s lineup, which caused confusion among consumers who were already familiar with Ford’s other brands. This confusion made it difficult to establish a loyal customer base.
Poor Timing: The Edsel was launched at a time when the American car market was shifting towards smaller, more fuel-efficient models. The Edsel’s large size and low gas mileage made it less appealing to many consumers.
The Ford Motor Company threw in the towel on the Edsel by November of 1959. Only a few more than 100,000 vehicles were sold. Ironically, even adjusting for inflation, the Ford Edsels that are owned today by collectors sell for more than a new Edsel would have sold for in the late 50s.
- Year Started: 1957
- Year Ended: 1959
- Origin Of Name: First name of the son of the founder of the company
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Ford Motor Company
- Owner While In Use: Publicly Traded
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Toyota Camry
- Naics Code: 336110
- Location Headquarters: Dearborn, Michigan, United States