By on April 15, 2011

Ask an industry-watcher to name an automaker that seems to be doing things right, and chances are one of the top choices would be Ford Motor Company. And though Ford is enjoying favorable perceptions in the media, according to the company’s own internal goals, it’s actually underperforming. And in a key metric, no less: retail market share. Bloomerg reports:

Ford in the first quarter had 13.6 percent of the U.S. retail auto market, which excludes sales to fleet buyers, according to researcher Edmunds.com. That trailed the 14.1 percent target Ford’s board set for executives to match or exceed this year, according to the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker’s government filings.

Though Ford outsold GM last month in terms of pure volume, and though GM’s retail market share seems to have been at one of its lowest levels in years, it was still higher than Ford’s (15.6% compared to 13.6%). Last year, Ford hit only 44% of its corporate market-share goal and 58% of its target for the American markets, while coming up .1% short of its 14.2% US retail market share goal. Still, Ford’s strong profitability last year points to the fact that market share isn’t everything, even though retail market share is heavily weighted in Ford’s executive bonus formula (as it reflects “consumer acceptance”). But will Ford continue to give up market share in order to protect profits if executives have incentives to “buy” market share with spiffs? At this point, only time will tell…

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94 Comments on “Is Ford… Underperforming?...”


  • avatar
    Dragophire

    I think Ford has just hit a ceiling and needs to step back and reexamine what its doing.  I like Ford but think Ford Mytouch is over the top.  They would benefit from updates for the Taurus,Flex and Fusion is due for a design/.

    • 0 avatar
      neevers1

      The Fusion is about to be redesigned I do believe. 

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      The Taurus and Flex aren’t exactly selling in large numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Ford doesn’t want to dump a bunch of development money into those products. I assume that people who used to buy that type of car/wagon have migrated to CUV’s like the Edge.
       
      I like the concept of My Touch but software bugs in such a prominent feature of the car can easily destroy customer good will and make customers blind to all the excellence in the interior materials, chassis, suspension and drive line. I hope Mulally has been having some serious discussions with the SYNC team because the reliability and reputation for that product is not moving in the right direction.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        I heard from C/Net’s Brian who evaluates the tech in various cars and he found the My Touch too convoluted for the average buyer based on how it’s implemented with too much touching with a touch screen and too many instances of taking the eyes off the road to USE the thing in the first place.
         
        The MySync was a much simpler system and it was fairly easy to learn and use in comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        Norma

        What’s new?

        I read that Ford is rushing to the market by shipping ‘batch 0′ Focus to customers. Some marketing genius beautify it as ‘auto engineers tested each and every early examples in tracks’ to make sure everything works fine. LOL.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        Norma,
        What do you mean batch 0?  I believe the Focus has been on sale in Europe for awhile now.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Taurus is still selling near the top of its segment.  Fullsize sedans simply aren’t a huge market anymore, but given what people are buying in that segment the Taurus is doing well.  The Flex could certainly use a boost, and should be due for a refresh pretty soon.
       
      Ford has responded agressively to the difficulties with MyTouch.  The software is being automatically updated free of charge when vehicles come in for routine maintenance, and the last several releases have been rock solid stable and much faster than the original version.  It’s unfortunate that the system was released before it was completely ready, but the experience with the system now is a world away from what it was in the first cars that rolled off the lines.  Ford is also being very proactive in training dealer staff as well as compensating dealers to take the additional time to teach new customers how to use the system.  Plus, the syncmyride.com website has constantly updated FAQs with user submitted qustions, live chat help, and there is a toll free 800 number for Sync help.

  • avatar

    With the Focus, Ford has rolled out the last of its new-new cars. Now everything for the next few years will be a derivative, based off of an already-existing platform.

    Ford is def still on the upswing, but the problem with capturing more market share right now is that the American car market is still in a slump. So you’ve got everybody and their cousin fighting over the same customers, and at this point a lot of people are really loyal to their brands. If you’re still a GM guy, it’ll take a lot to convince you to buy a Blue Oval.

    I don’t think Ford is going to get much more than a 15% market share even in the best of conditions. They should be happy with 13.6% and crazy profits.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Agreed and as pointed out in another story on the site, Ford needs to work on building share in developing markets. I’m much more concerned about Ford’s relatively small market share in China, for example, than I am about Ford’s market share in the U.S. The real money is in Brazil, Russia, India and China and Ford is very late to that party.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Ford is very US-centric today — almost 60% of the revenues (excluding Volvo) in 2010 were generated in North America.  Europe (which is bleeding money and market share) was over 25%, leaving a pittance for the huge growth markets.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Completely agree Silvy – Ford is doing well in the US, and that is great, but they are behind GM and VW in the BRIC countries and this matters. Some of the commentators on this site are too US centered – for example criticizing VW by basing their perception of how well VW does by its US performance when. Same goes for GM when both of those companies do very well in China, Brazil etc.

      • 0 avatar

        Not all the BRIC countries. The Ford Figo is doing pretty well in India.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The 2013 Fusion will be a new-new car as well, moving to the next generation of what is currently the global EUCD platform.  The Taurus wiill likely follow a move to the same platform a year later, and the year after that the 50th anniversary Mustang will debut on an all new platform, and the Edge/MKX will likely move as well, as they are both currently CD3 based.  The new Escape will also be an all new platform for the US as it merges with the Euro Kuga into something like the Vertrek concept.
       
      Ford additionally has a lot of refreshes in the works, with the refreshed Expedition and Navigator due for 2013 and a refresh of the F-150 likely for 2014.  The new Ford way is all about not resting on laurels, agressive three or four year refreshes on all models, and major platform updates coming every other refresh or so.
       
      Some increased marketshare in China would certainly help, but for all of the units sold in China, the big mystery is how much of that is profit.  Selling stripped down models for far far less than US transaction prices may allow an automaker to put up impressive numbers regarding moving the metal, but it might not have a huge effect on the balance sheet.  Ford is moving to have a larger presence in China, but I think the cautious attitude thus far has been smart.  The Chinese infrastructure will only support so many cars, and there is no way to tell if the huge explosion of growth over there is sustainable.

      • 0 avatar
        John Horner

        How many profits from China has GM actually been able to bring out of that country?

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        The 2013 Fusion, which will be called new, will have the same underpinnings as the 2007 Volvo V70 Wagon.  This Volvo underbelly has been available since fall 2006 on the Volvo V70 at your local dealer.  So, the new 2013 Fusion will really be an old Volvo.  Exciting.

        Ford will make a few small changes so they can claim the underbelly of the Fusion is not the same as the old Volvo. But, you will find it shares most parts with the old Volvo.

        However, Toyota’s 2012 Camry will be all new.  All new.
        Which car will you buy in 2013?  A 2013 Fusion, which is really a 2007 Volvo, or a 2012 Camry, which is all new.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        jimmyy/jj -
         
        The next generation Fusion will be a blend of the best elements of the current CD3 platform and the Mondeo’s EUCD.  It’s important to note that when referring to platforms all you are really talking about are basic chassis hard points.  There is still a nearly infinite level of customization when it comes to suspension elements, engines, and transmissions, as well as varying things like floorplans, wheelbases, and beltlines.  A platform is a starting point to build a car on top of, nothing more.
         
        All manufacturers evolve platforms over time.  The next generation Camry will of course contain elements of previous versions, as Toyota will do what all automakers do and evolve what works.  After googling around a bit I can’t find any reference to what the 2012 Camry will be other than an evolution of the current model, which makes sense, you don’t want to mess too much with success.
         
        The upcoming Fusion will receive a new platform designation, probably CD4 from what I’ve read, and will be a world car.  One of the big design focuses was apparently making the platform easily adaptable so that it can underpin future large cars like the next gen Taurus, as well as allowing for more differentiation between Ford and Lincoln models.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    With Ford in as much trouble debt-wise, I’d be very concerned indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Ford has a lot of debt, but its not in any debt trouble. Ford is current on all its debt payments and has been paying down debt faster than required. No one, not even the most conservative analysts, is predicting that Ford is in danger of defaulting on any of its lines of credit.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Ford has been paying off its debt at a rapid pace in the middle of a very tough automotive market. The debt monster is being slain one body part at a time.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Gentlemen; if that’s true, that’s very nice to know.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      Ford has a junk credit rating from the credit rating agencies.  Zackman, you are correct in being very concerned.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      @Zackman- I was surprised to read that Toyota’s debt is much more than Fords $106B, over $135B. I am not sure how financing arms play into those figures, but that is what the latest operating reports show. Ford has to generate superior results with $1,000/car higher interest cost than GM.

  • avatar

    What’s a spiff?

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      A spiff is a payment given to a salesman/dealer that is in addition to any other compensation. If you offer a salesman $250 for every red car he sells in addition to his regular commission, that salesman is very likely to talk up red cars, show people the red cars, talk about how great the red car looks in the sunlight, etc. Spiffs can be used to get salesmen to move merchandise that has been sitting around, to move merchandise that isn’t necessarily “sexy” and could benefit from some extra attention, to get the salesman to make an effort to learn about and push a new product, to help get rid of something that is in oversupply, or any other reason you can dream up.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      A spiff is direct compensation from the manufacturer to encourage sales of a model that might have to be discounted to the point where there isn’t much profit to be made in a regular sale.
       
      For the past year, Ford has been extremely stingy with spiffs/spins.  The only area they’ve consistently offered them is on lease renewals, mostly to make up for the fact that due to Ford Credit’s very cautious residuals, new leased vehicles have had to be further discounted at the dealer level to keep returning lease customers around the same payments they are used to.

  • avatar
    Silvy_nonsense

    Judging performance by market share is a ridiculous, old-fashioned, pissing-contest metric that is typical of the bad-old-days of Detroit. Discounting, cheap financing, low, low lease rates and all those other giveaways will certainly build market share but kill profitability, contribute to accelerated depreciation for cars already on the road and provide a boost to sales that is only temporary and will evaporate as soon as the incentives stop.
     
    Building market share through innovation, solid engineering and assembly, effective marketing and focused customer service is hard and takes time, but these reputation building practices bring about continued success through repeat customers and word-of-mouth. Any dummy can build market share by giving away the store. I hope Ford (and GM and Chrysler for that matter) don’t choose such a lame business strategy.
     
    Hopefully the boards of Ford, GM and Chrysler will start to place more value on metrics that reflect consistent execution of solid business practices like profit per unit, profit per employee and return on investment and will let go of dumb metrics that were popular during Detroit’s several decade long journey toward the brink of disaster.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      I disagree. If Detroit had worried more about market share in the 80 & 90s and less about profit per unit it wouldn’t have been stuck with all of its eggs in the truck/SUV basket and likely wouldn’t have gone through the train wrecks we saw over the last several years.
      Read some of what GM and Ford were telling the business press in the 1990s when they were all about profitability … and let their car lineups get killed by the competition.
       
       

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        I disagree with your analysis there.  I think they worried a lot about pumping out enough cars to amortize their higher labor costs.  People just stopped buying them. The flight to SUV’s and trucks was more about it being the only automotive segment where a company with their cost structure could compete outside of the bottom of the market.
         
        Market share is cool and all, but it’s better to be profitable and small than it is to be big and broke.

      • 0 avatar
        John Horner

        Were you reading the business press in the 1990s as both GM and Ford crowed about their record profits and their strategic shift to trucks? I’m not just making stuff up.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Domestic execs said a lot of things.  They said they were making cars just as good as the Japanese, and that people were just being biased. They said they would never go bankrupt.  They said they were competent to run the companies.

        Basically, they lie and spin and kick the ball down the field.  So I’m not too worried about what they said in the business press.

      • 0 avatar
        SimonAlberta

        No, I agree with Silvy.
         
        Look at all the money Ford threw away in the 90s desperately buying sales for the Taurus just so they could claim #1 status against the Accord while Honda were raking it in with virtually full-price sales.
         
        To my mind you just cheapen the whole brand with that strategy.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        Love this discussion! Totally agree that market share is nowhere near the top of the priority list, whereas profits are Job #1. And profits are driven by value and quality.
        Would like to suggest that the Detroit (OK, GM/Ford) model for focusing on profitability over the past few decades, at least in cars, has been to milk as much money as possible from an aging customer base by delivering a low level of reliability and durability, in order to accelerate repeat sales. There’s no other rational way to explain their behavior.
        Obviously this business model could not last forever. Kudos to Ford for figuring it out slightly faster than the other guys and beginning the painful course correction a little sooner. But they’ve still got a long way to go to regain my trust.
        Now as to the SUV fad: I have a hard time blaming the automakers for making what people wanted to buy at the time. Hell, gas was practically free. But this is irrelevant to the car situation. The problem wasn’t that cars were starved for resources during this period. The problem was that cars continued to be designed and manufactured per the above profitability model.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I’m not worried about Ford.  In fact I often wonder if in a decade there will be ONE “American” (I know it’s a loose definition, go with me here) automaker – Ford.  GM will likely be a Chinese company and I like Chrysler’s new products but for all intents and puproses, it’s an Italian (or at least European) company. 

    Now other than from a psychological standpoint, does this matter in a world economy?  No not really but that psychological thing is a big deal for many Americans. 

    Spiffs are no big deal.  My Dad sells John Deere lawn and utility tractors and landscaping equipment, he get’s spiffs all the time.  Motivate your sales force. 

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      @Dan:   You know, I’m with you on this and that “one” thought has been rattling around in what’s left of my brain for the last two-and-a-half years.

      In this era of globalization, no, it doesn’t matter who owns what, but that spark of local pride really may never go away, at least from those old enough to know the difference between “domestic” and “import”. SIGH…

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        I’m honestly starting to believe that what’s more important is where things are manufactured.  I could buy a Sonata made in Alabama, I could buy a Mazda 6 made in Flat Rock, MI, a Honda Accord made in Marysville, OH or help our neighbors to the north by buying say a W-body or a Chrysler LX platform.  Yeah we can argue till were blue in the face about where the profit goes but if I buy (for example) that Hyundai Sonata I know part of the proceeds go to feed a factory worker and his family in Alabama. 

        I guess my overall point is I’m starting to think more about WHERE a car is built and think less about where the company is HEADQUARTERED.   

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      I wish people were concerned about the intellectual capacity to run these most immense and complicated of all enterprises. The vast bulk of the engineering, management and professional support for every Auto company is in their respective home countries. That “gold or white collar” class is strategically far, far more important than the production jobs on any assembly line. I am not knocking the hard working employees of any company, but this is reality. 

      Choose the product you want, but don’t lie to yourself about where the benefits go. They go pimarily to the home country. Korean brand cars support Korea, Japanese, Japan, Germans, Germany and Americans, America. 

      It is not complicated, but it sure is discouraging to read so many posts that seem ignorant of this reality, as well as the huge costs and importance of the product development and engineering functions of these companies. 

  • avatar

    I could sell an additional 500,000 units for GM by year end without increasing costs. in the years since I wrote Return to Greatness it has been enhanced and refined to the point that it would take the industry by storm. in fact it’s the most powerful thing any manufacturer could do. silly me for keeping the dream alive in spite of Red Ink Rick and his replacements.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Ford has been under-performing for years.  Once you take the blue blinders off and actually analyze their sales, you would see that for a long time, the majority of their “new” products had terrible sales numbers.
     
    Taurus sells worse than the Five Hundred, the Fiesta numbers have been less than stellar, the Flex has been a colossal failure, the Mustang sales have declined even with the new engines, and the Explorer looks less than impressive.  Then you have Lincoln…which is an unbelievable mess.
     
    Add to that the fact that Ford has a rather high fleet percentage, and it;’s clear why their not anywhere near their goal.
     
    Perhaps of they lower their astronomical prices (for rather mediocre appliances), their sales would increase.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      You say a lot of things Silvy, now prove it. Give us hard sales numbers for the Five Hundred v Taurus, for the Mustang since the new engine, for the Explorer and any other numbers you can drag up. You make these statements and never come with the numbers and yet you expect us to believe what you say.

      I do kind of agree with one thing though, Ford’s prices are too high but the same is true for GM and Chrysler too.

      • 0 avatar
        Z71_Silvy

        The numbers are all provided by Ford every single month in their sales press release.
         
         

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Nope, I want you to quote them, come on you supposedly looked them up so it shouldn’t be hard to put them here. Try to cut and paste. Prove to everyone here that you have something worthwhile to contribute, until then, well, I guess you’re just a troll. You do understand that most everyone reads you for entertainment and that they aren’t laughing with you either.

      • 0 avatar
        Z71_Silvy

        Uggg….ok…if you need it spoon fed to you:
         
        Here is the link to all of the sales figures I use:
        http://www.blueovalnews.com/index.php?categoryid=22

    • 0 avatar
      SimonAlberta

      @ Silvy
       
      Rather mediocre appliances? Seriously?
       
      I can’t agree with that. I do think the styling and general placement of some of the vehicles is iffy but I think Ford quality is now at least acceptable.

      • 0 avatar
        Z71_Silvy

        Yes.  Seriously.
         
        Nothing Ford sells right now here in this country is remotely interesting.  Their whole line up is full of compromises.  Ford has become the American equivalent of Toyota.  Ford’s products are just as bland and boring.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Apples to aranges there Silvy, cherry-picking data is not a valid way to prove a point. I took a look at the link. You are comparing sales from several years (5 or so maybe) when the annual sales were several million higher than in 2010 and 11. Yeah genius, when there were 2-3 million more cars sold, sales of each model were higher back then. Now go do the same for GM and report back to me. You’re going to find the same thing for them too. There is an old saying about liars and statistics but I can’t remember it right now. You got caught, admit it amd go away.

  • avatar
    enzl

    Ford is fine…weakness in pick-ups and slow progress in BRIC could distract, but Focus derivatives alone should boost volume for those obsessed with share. They do not have adequate supply of Explorers or Focuses right now to take full advantage of their improving rep, IMO.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The new Explorer has been such a huge success that we still can’t believe it at my dealer.  I’ve had customers looking to buy who I can’t even offer a test drive to because new Explorers are sold before they even hit the ground.
       
      Blowing through the old 2011 Focuses has already helped increase Fiesta sales, and the new Focus should be popular once we actually get a decent selection to sell.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        Not according to Motor Trend.  New Explorer was tested and flunked.  What makes this sooo bad is Motor Trend has a strong bias for Detroit.  But, they ranked Explorer in last place.  TTAC had lots of praise for the new Explorer.  Is TTAC really a mouthpiece for Detroit?

      • 0 avatar

        More than anything, I think that shows how poorly-regarded any opinion from Motor Trend is.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Motor Trend review had some interesting inconsistencies.  They criticized the Explorer for being small inside (it isn’t) and gave first place to the Mazda CX-9 (which is genuinely cramped in the back two rows).
       
      They also list a number of complaints about certain things not being fully worked out (suspension tuning, MyFord Touch crashing, a squeak from a tire air deflector) and then, almost as a footnote, barely mention they were testing an early pre-production prototype.  Ford should not have sent a pre-production car to compete against production vehicles, but the little gripes they mentioned are things that have since been remedied before actual customers got cars.
       
      Also, interestingly enough, despite the review, on the poll on the first page of that article, where MT asks which of the vehicles you would buy as a customer, the Explorer has a full 49% of the votes to itself, so, half of everyone likes the Explorer, the other half is split amongst the other four.

  • avatar
    eldard

    Apparently Ford is meeting its recall quota for the year. That’s hardly underperforming.

    • 0 avatar

      I just had a recall on Lexus done, so it’s allright (some monkey didn’t torque a fuel pressure sensor right apparently?)

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      Yeah…the beloved Ford has had quite a few recalls recently.  And now, the NHTSA is looking into 1.5 million Ford products because they roll away on their own despite the vehicle being put in park:
       
      http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20110413/AUTO01/104130437/1148/auto01/Feds-expand-probe-of-1.5M-Ford-vehicles
       
      Ford quality………………………………is still a myth.
       
       

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Incentives for April were cut back sharply from March levels, and March incentive levels weren’t that high compared to what was offered a year or two ago.  Right now the 2012 Focus, Fiesta, Explorer, and 2012 Mustang all have $500 or less in incentives, that’s amazingly low for any automaker, especially one of the D3.
     
    Retail marketshare is important, but the thinking in Dearborn may be that they’d rather make more profit from selling fewer units at less of a discount.  Establishing value for the brand through quality products and getting the buyers willing to pay a higher price for that quality can lead to great profits in the future.  The buyers who are willing to pay for quality will share their positive experiences with others, and as the brand continues to build a reputation for quality the higher prices can continue to be asked.  Market share will increase naturally through word of mouth and positive customer experiences.  On the other hand, discounting heavily to grab the value buyer may lead to quick market share now, but those buyers will jump ship to Hyundai, Chevy, or whoever is offering the biggest discount should Ford ever try to remove discounts and raise prices in the future.  Discounts are a lot like salt in soup – you can always add more, but it’s hard to reduce the amount after you add.

  • avatar

    You know what’s funny… The 4×4 trucks are the only off-road platforms offered by Ford anymore. There is no jeep. Obviously it does not bother anyone, because “if you want a jeep, you buy a Jeep… or FJ” logic.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    I think that there always will be Ford fans who choose to buy Ford.  I caught this piece on Bloomberg and what the lady said made a lot of sense.  I believe Ford could be doing better if they could attract the youngsters who are now buying Toyondasans as soon as they are able to. The Ford line of products has never been better, in fact, the Ford line is superior to any GM or Chrysler product.  But of all those former customers who now choose to buy a foreign brand, how many are willing to come back to Ford? Speaking only for myself, I don’t see us trading my wife’s Jap-built Highlander for anything that Ford makes, and I sure as hell am not going to trade my Tundra for another F150.  Hell, my last F150 was the reason I now drive Tundra! So, yes, I do think that Ford could be doing better, and that also means that their  prices are driven by the incentives they have to offer to get people to buy their products. And what is going to happen to Ford when Mulally retires? He’s the brains behind Ford.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Market share isn’t everything, but it is important. There are significant economies of scale in automotive manufacturing, and size does matter. Only a fool argues that it should either be ignored or that it is the be all end all metric. It matters, and so do other things.
    Remember how Porsche used to brag about being the world’s most profitable car company? Look at all the good that did the newest division of VW.

    • 0 avatar
      eldard

      Porsche wasn’t absorbed by VW because it was failing. It was because it tried to take over VW and couldn’t cough up the cash. It used to be the most reliable Euro marque. Now that they are just another glorified VW I fear for them.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Economies of scale are easily created, because even poorly selling mass market models move tens of thousands of units. A crazed drive to sell lots of cars to cover high fixed costs just reflects poor management that is unable to control its fixed costs. Its an excuse for not fixing the root cause of the problem. Running after market share because you can’t manage the key elements of your business is pitiful.
       
      If I tell you to increase quality, you can work those issues. If I tell you to improve customer service, you can work those issues. If you succeed, market share is likely to follow. If I tell you to increase market share the only tool you’ve got is to devalue your product by giving it away in the form of discounts, rebates, low interest loans and other financial trickery that debase the product’s value and directly attack earnings. Only a fool gives away the store. Chasing market share for the sake of chasing market share is a fool’s maneuver.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    But of all those former customers who now choose to buy a foreign brand, how many are willing to come back to Ford? Speaking only for myself, I don’t see us trading my wife’s Jap-built Highlander for anything that Ford makes...
     
    Oddly enough, we did exactly that.  My wife traded her (basic) Highlander in for a zooted out Edge.  Personally I liked flogging the little 4 cyl in the Toyota, where as the Edge is a heavier vehicle with a much more powerful engine.  Not my cup of tea, but she loves it which is what matters.  In 30k miles, we’ve only had an issue with one of the dvd screens.
     
    I am looking forward to the new Escape/Kuga….I haven’t bought a new “American” car in….ever….

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      But of all those former customers who now choose to buy a foreign brand, how many are willing to come back to Ford?

      Based on all the foreign brand cars that are being traded in to buy Fords, I’d say plenty. I’m driving a built-in-Germany German car now, but my next one will be something domestic.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Dave & Silvy, that’s what makes the US automotive market-watch so very interesting! But it is not the same for all parts of the US.  My guess would be that the further away you get from Detroit the fewer people care about Ford and GM, and the fewer people buy them.
      Since my wife bought a 2008 Highlander Limited AWD  that came standard with the V6, we have had none of the power-issues that owners of the 4-cyl variety may be experiencing.  It’s hard work to move a 3600 pound beast with only a four-banger.
      But as to the under-performing of Ford, the youngsters of today are not in to cars like my generation was, and the trend as I see it, is toward disposable cars like Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, and to some extent VW, Toyota and Honda.  You buy them, drive the hell out of them, and dump them when the warranty period is over. I do not see the buyers who jumped ship in favor of the foreign brands coming back to Ford in any great numbers, unless they had a bad experience with their foreign brand.  Some exceptions? Of course.
      But when I went out and looked over what was in the market place when I was buying, i.e. the Highlander and the Tundra, I bought what I found to give me the most value for my money and the biggest bang for my buck. Best of all, I had none of the warranty issues I had with my previous domestic cars and trucks.
      People need to buy what works for them, but I really can’t see buying second best if given a choice.   It remains to be seen if Ford can continue to consistently crank out products on par with the foreigners, and we won’t know for several years yet how good today’s Fords really are. One thing for sure, though, as long as the foreigners keep building their products in North America, using North American parts-suppliers, we’re going to see the same ills and defects that we’ve enjoyed from the domestic brands for decades, with the resulting recalls to match. It’s already happening.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Hyundai is probably taking the market share Ford was hoping to get.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Hyundai is getting business from a wide range of competitors, with the shares Mitsubishi and Isuzu once had being a big piece of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        John,

        What figures are you quoting, what is the source of your data? How did you determine that former Mitsubishi and Isuzu customers are now buying Hyundais? Without data from a reliable source, this sounds like classic Internet commenting blow-hard baloney.
         

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I live on the Wellesley/Weston border just three exists down the Mass Pike from Boston.  I drive the Mass Pike between my home and downtown Boston daily.  Examples of brand new Ford cars and trucks are so unusual, they catch my eye.  And, when they are seen, they usually carry a bar code typical from Hertz, or Budget, or …  In my opinion, Ford is failing.  If you can’t get normal people to buy your cars, you have a problem.
    From people I know, the opinion seems to be that Ford is a ruse.  They just keep putting new auto bodies on top of the same old underpinnings.  Ford thinks people buy cars based on looks.  Hardly.  And, they are way overpriced.  Do you think I want to support some generous union contract?
     

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      ” Do you think I want to support some generous union contract?”
      So much hatred for unionized workers, and yet none for the overpaid executives?
      It reminds me of the story about the CEO, the libertarian and the union rep. The three of them are sitting at a table with a dozen delicious home made cookies in the middle. The CEO slides 11 cookies into his golf bag, leans over to the libertarian and says “I gotta run, but watch out for that union guy, he wants part of your cookie”.
       

      • 0 avatar
        Silvy_nonsense

        Just out of curiosity, how much should an executive make? What is fair compensation for the 24/7, 365 pressure and responsibility of running a multi-billion dollar enterprise? $55,000? $155,000? $55 million? Is $55 million OK if he brings in $5.5 billion in profits?
         
        Should companies auction off high level positions to the lowest bidder? If that low bidder does a bad job is it OK, because they got him for a steal? If that cheap executive’s bad job causes the loss of thousands of jobs, both union and non-union, is that OK because, as said before, the guy came cheap? Just asking.
         
        As long as unionized sports superstars are paid multi-million dollar salaries, then I think its OK to pay non-unionized industrial managers multi-million dollar salaries. Fraternity, equality and solidarity, right? I mean, if it’s OK for a union member to make millions, why shouldn’t everyone else be able to make millions? It’s only fair.
         
        Ford earned $6.6 billion in profits in 2010 and also still managed to pay off $14.5 billion in debt. (On top of that, Ford has built up a $20.5 billion (with a “b”) cash reserve – Ford has $1.5 billion more cash on hand than they have debt. That’s pretty damn phenomenal performance!)
         
        In 2010, Alan Mulally made $12.8 million in salary and bonuses and was awarded $5.5 million in stock options (worth nothing until he exercises the options, but let’s treat it as cash-in-hand for now). So $6.6 billion divided by $18.3 million equals .277%. Mulally’s pay (which I’ve artificially exaggerated by adding the stock options to the total) is about one quarter of one percent of Ford’s profits for the year. That doesn’t sound like overcompensation to me. If we add the $14.5 billion in debt payments to the $6.6 million in profits, Mulally’s compensation is .087% of the money Ford brought in above costs.
         
        If you told an average car salesman that you’d pay him .087% of the profit on every car he sold, he’s laugh in your face and quit. Some executives may be over compensated, but with the results Mulally is bringing in, he’s a bargain.

      • 0 avatar

        John, Class warfare only has so much purchase on the American mind.

      • 0 avatar
        John Horner

        First, I was responding to a bit of union bashing with the question why some people have an atavistic hatred for unionized workers to the point of refusing to buy their products, and yet seem to think that the sky is the limit for executives.
        Second, I think that major league sports players are also massively overpaid. I’m not a “unions are always right” guy, and I’m also not a “unions are the scourge of the earth” guy.
        To the class warfare point. Anyone who says they will not buy a product because it was assembled by unionized workers is in fact starting the class warfare argument. As Warren Buffett says, class warfare is on, and his class is winning it all.
         
         

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      ” In my opinion”
       
      Jimmyy, your opinion doesn’t invalidate the facts. Ford is selling lots of cars and there have been previous articles on TTAC that have broken down what percentage of cars by all manufacturers are being sold into rental fleets. Those numbers are known facts and there’s no need for lame-brain, back-of-the-envelope figures that are derived by noticing what catches your eye as you drive the freeways around Boston. Even thought I’m not a statistician, I know enough to state with authority that you’ve conceived of a really poorly designed statistical sampling program.
       
      That’s great that you drive around looking at things, but using that technique I could conclude that the Jeep Grand Wagoneer is the best selling car in America, based on the time I’ve spent driving around Martha’s Vineyard. Something else everyone may not be aware of, America is mostly populated by cows because I spent a lot of time driving around rural Vermont and saw mostly cows. I just thought you all should know.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Jimmyy,
       
      Just because you don’t see many Fords other than what appears to be rentals in the Boston area doesnt’ even tell you the whole store, that is just ONE piece of the pie. If it’s the same elsewhere, then I’d be worried, but I’m not.
       
      I see a lot of Fords out here in Seattle and plenty of both new AND used and many of them newer models. The other day, someone had just bought a brand new, white Fiesta, so new it didn’t have its plates yet.
       
      Yes, the Fiesta isn’t exactly everywhere yet but they ARE selling and I thought I saw the brand new 5 door Focus on the freeway the other day as well but could not be sure as it was too far ahead for me to see for sure.
       
      And where do I live? Seattle, that’s where.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        Strange.  Last time I was in Seattle, Washington, foreign cars vastly outnumbered Detroit cars.  Like 3 to 1.  Are you from Seattle, Michigan?

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Jimmyy,
         
        You are still missing the point, I didn’t say Ford out numbered foreign makes, did I? I just said there are plenty of them ON the roads in one for or another, most of them either owned or leased (if late model).
         
        I personally think Ford will do OK, if not stellar as time goes on, GM, I’m not so sure, based on too much of what they are still doing and Chrysler, too early to tell yet but if what they and Fiat are doing, they might come out of this OK, not stellar, but OK, at least initially, if their products do well enough in the short term to start with.
         
        This I postulated last August with a good buddy of mine and he agreed and he’s grown up with lots of GM product in his family, I grew up with the Chrysler of old, mostly mid sized RWD sedans from the 70′s, he the same time period, but GM and we both agreed that Ford may well become the top dog as far as the big 3 are concerned.
         
        But as someone else on here said, it’s hard to predict the auto industry with any real accuracy.

  • avatar
    don1967

    There has been a substantial disconnect between expectations and reality for Ford ever since it emerged from carmageddon as a folk hero.

    Yes, the company avoided a bailout and has turned a profit with help from some improved product.   But this in itself does not ensure future success.   Ford remains a union-dominated, truck-and-fleet-dependent business that is under massive pressure from foreign competitors.   And the Chinese haven’t even arrived on our shores yet.    

    Expectations that Ford will return Detroit to its former glory, or for that matter even survive the next 10-20 years, are based on wishful thinking more than anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I really have doubts about Ford surviving the next 3 – 5 years.  Seriously! And GM? Fuggedaboutit!  Chrysler is already foreign-owned, so they are down there with the rest of the transplants and foreign auto companies. This shake out of the industry started at the end of 2008 which coincided with carmageddon (the final chapter) and even though both Ford and GM appear to be doing pretty good now, neither is able to carry on, on its own, without massive loans, bail out money, special tax accommodations and creative accounting.  At least the bailed out financial sector is back to making real money. There simply aren’t enough people who are willing to buy Ford, or GM, to bring either of these companies back to being a viable, profitable and self-sustaining business.  If the Republicans get the White House and the majorities in Congress in 2012, we can kiss the UAW and any further auto industry bail outs good bye. But even the Dems are quickly tiring of carrying the water for this failed American industry.  This did not have to happen.  There were plenty of warnings along the way to this financial collapse.  Bailing out these failed companies by Bush and Obama boggles the imagination for the vast majority of tax payers. No one is going to bail them out! The only way for Ford and GM to make a comeback is to eliminate choice by kicking out the better foreign-brand cars and trucks. But that will never happen.  Maybe another earthquake and tsunami will help Ford and GM by crimping Japanese production. The UAW likes to think that God is on their side. We’ll see.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ highdesertcat….I mean really, if you can get your head around the UAW conspiring with the President, on the Toyota UIA thing, getting the “big guy” on board should be a walk in the park eh?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Mikey, I wanted to get the point across that it will take active divine intervention to help Ford, the UAW and the entire US domestic auto industry, to include the parts suppliers, to get them through the next three years.  The numbers just aren’t in their favor.  I’m not selling anything, and I hope to be proven wrong because I would like to see the tax payers actually get SOME of that money back that was showered on them. Like so many other real-world buyers, I put my money on the companies that I think WILL be around in the next decade or two.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @highdesertcat….Predicting the future of the car buisness,is at its best  an iffy science. Just ask Robert Farago.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      Ford knows the trick.  They do not have to make the best cars.  They only need to make you think they make the best cars.  Trickery.

      Want some more trickery? Ford took many many billions in government money. They just took money from different government programs than the ones that GM and Ford used. Billions as energy loans. Billions in commercial paper at near zero rates from the Fed. But, advertisement trickery and a decision by the union loving media is leaving this story untold. Trickery.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        jimmyy, I was against any and all bail outs and nationalization but I also agree with others who posted that all these bail outs, hand outs, nationalization and creative accounting, were a sweet deal for the US auto industry. Not so good for the tax payers.  While Congress himmed and hawed about how investing in the US auto industry was such a great deal for America, many economists (many who appeared as talking heads on all the business and news channels) were not so sure. And, of course, the tax paying public rebelled at these bail outs for failed companies.  The US auto industry is not like Wall Street or the Investment Banks, as I learned from several financial boards.  We actually will be getting back the bail out money that was given to those institutions.  Things are not that clear cut with the US auto industry, and the PBGC involvement in funding the UAW bennies and healthcare retirement programs.  Clearly, we’re keeping the 6% employed by the US auto industry working at the expense of the other 94% of the US tax payers.  Mighty hard to justify since selling off Ford and GM to foreign manufacturers would probably create an increase in US jobs, with minimum risk to the US Treasury, like in the case of Fiatsler, soon to be 51% Italian owned.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The only government programs that Ford availed itself of were those that were available for any healthy automaker or US corporation to apply for.  Do major companies get to borrow money at very low rates?  Yes.  Why should Ford not do it when both the competition and companies in other sectors do it all the time?
       
      There is a huge difference between what Ford did, which was present sound business plans and ideas for green technology development in exchange for government incentive to make those things happen and what GM/Chrysler did which was go to the government saying their business plans had failed and they needed money to stay solvent (and then after taking that money, become insolvent anyway).  DOE energy loans exist as a way of legislating corporate behavior through financial incentive, Ford taking those loans to develop more fuel and energy efficient vehicle technology is exactly what those programs were designed for. If you don’t think that the Japanese, German, and Korean governments don’t have similar programs for their domestic automakers, you’re fooling yourself. Heck, plenty of foreign automakers, including Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Mercedes, and BMW have taken special incentives from various states in the US to build plants here. The first rule of business is never spend your own money when you can spend someone elses, and all automakers, regardless of country of origin, adhere to this rule.
       
      Also it can’t be said enough – Ford took loans, not bailouts.  Loans which will be paid back, and in many cases have already been paid back far ahead of schedule.

      Given that Ford is already very profitable at current less than stellar US sales levels, that Ford now has more liquid cash on hand than debt, and that Ford has an incredibly solid and competitive line of fuel efficient vehicles that are now coming to market just in time for rising gas prices, I see no reason why there should be any doubt as to Ford’s future survival.

      • 0 avatar
        SherbornSean

        Nullomodo,
        I have never been much of a fan of sales reps, but you are certainly changing my mind.  You are an important part of the B&B, consistently bringing logic to the table, even when it has shown Ford in a less-than-favorable light.  Thank you,

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Nullo, this is exactly what makes these forums so interesting for fans. A different point of view! And I respect that. One camp of visionaries that sees a totally different, diametrically opposed, vision for the same company in the future.  I remember similar discussions during 2008 as to what lay ahead for the US auto industry. No need to rehash that since we all know how that turned out. Keep in mind, all I really care about is not the survival or demise of Ford or GM, but whether or not the tax payers get back any of that money they so generously bestowed in the forms or bail outs, hand outs, nationalization and ‘loans’ (for any and all comers), either through M&A, liquidation or other types of sell offs (as in government directed).

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Ford must underestimate the intelligence of the public.  Just a few years ago, they had the biggest junk known to the world.  In a few years, they want us to think they now make cars better than the Japs.  This is not possible.  It is a marketing scam.

    • 0 avatar
      geo

      Your post makes no sense.  How is it “not possible” that Ford’s quality has now surpassed the imports within a few years?  If studies and owner reports indicate that this is true, how is it a “marketing scam” to inform the public?  I suppose Ford should market their quality as if the Tempo and Windstar were still in production.

      BTW, Hyundai/Kia have improved at a similar rate.  Are they also scamming the public, because the 2005 Rio was low-quality crap, (as was the Sportage)?  

      Product quality can improve dramatically within a few short years . . . with good management and investment.

  • avatar

    It’d be interesting to see if jimmyy’s IP address is shared with another Ford critic here.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      I don’t think they are the same, Silvy may be a little smarter than jimmyy. Silvy has the true believer, last man in the bunker thing down much better though.

  • avatar
    Cease2Exist

    Don’t take this the wrong way, as I mean it sincerely, after having read MANY of your posts, but have you ever NOT criticized Ford, or not jumped in to at least mitigate criticism of Ford, their offerings, their failings, their outdated platforms, their relatively high pricing (Bloomberg article mentioned this today in a highly negative article on Ford), or any of their other significant mis-steps?

    I realize you work at a Ford Dealership, but a little objectivity at least once couldn’t hurt your credibility, and might even shake some of the notion that you are a literal and perpetual Ford Public Relations ‘Bot.’

  • avatar
    Cease2Exist

    My comment above was directed towards NulloModo.

  • avatar
    FordDeathWatch

    In the interest of vis a vis, I feel it is only fair to continue the saga of another ‘death watch’ series.
    :-)


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