Ford: No, After YOU

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
ford no after you

Remember when the rumor dujour was a Ford GM hook-up? That didn’t last long, thanks to Fords deep lack of interest. But as the LA Times points out, rejecting GM’s advances was just step one in Ford’s survival scheme. In fact, Ford is letting GM take the lead on bailout beg-a-thons, UAW negotiation and more. Once GM gets the feds to profer the appropriate mammaries, The Blue Oval Boyz simply waltz in and ask for their turn. “If they’re going to give money or other benefits to GM, there’s no way that Ford won’t be asking for those, too,” says Aaron Bragman, auto industry analyst for Global Insight. “Their argument is that if one company gets access to low-interest loans, so should we.” Ford VP Mark Shields puts it into bailout speak for us: “Whatever happens in the industry, there should be parity.” Ford is taking the “you go first” approach because it has cash to conserve, whereas GM has no choice but to go begging. (Or declare bankruptcy, of course.) But if the GM-Chrysler merger goes through, the UAW VEBA contract will likely be renegotiated. When it is, Ford will be able to apply any concessions to its own business with the UAW without paying for any of the negotiation. And while it outsources negotiation and federal fundraising to GM, Ford is focused on bringing its European lineup of fuel-efficient vehicles stateside. Can you say last man standing?

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4 of 11 comments
  • Samir Samir on Oct 31, 2008

    Ford still has major problems to deal with, not the least of which is that we're still waiting for them to built a small car that can compete with the Civic in overall quality. The Fusion/Taurus combination are fine to take on the Camry, but will Ford stay the course for a few generations in order to establish these two cars? It takes about 10-15 years to earn the kind of trust the Camry and Accord have now.

  • Guyincognito Guyincognito on Nov 01, 2008

    @ autonut : True, but Ford will get a bailout just like GM. And, the cash Ford borrowed now looks like a clairvoyant move, it most probably will buy the time they need until the government bucks roll in. They've been able to continue product development while GM and Chrysler have had to make delays. And Ford doesn't have the bloat that GM does. Other than Mercury, Ford's brands are strong and potentially profitable. The main issue still facing Ford is their lack of a product guy. Mark Fields does not know cars. Phil Martens was the brains behind the resurgence at Mazda. Ford needs to tap new blood to make product decisions that could lead to profitable large cars to replace the Flex and Taurus. I believe Ford is very close to returning to profitability with Mullaly at the helm.

  • Jamie1 (of Ford) Jamie1 (of Ford) on Nov 01, 2008
    The main issue still facing Ford is their lack of a product guy. Mark Fields does not know cars. Phil Martens was the brains behind the resurgence at Mazda. Autonut - You are right and wrong - Ford do need product guys as you rightly say. However, they already have them which is where you are wrong. Derrick Kuzak is one of the very best in the business - the reason that Ford in Europe has such a spectacular line-up is largely down to him and Mulally's decision to make him over-lord of all things product was inspirational. They even have a head of finance - Lewis Booth - who is a product guy. The success at Mazda came under his watch - he gave Mazda the tools they needed to revitalize their product line-up and then led Ford of Europe to their success. With Flex, Fusion, Milan, F-150, Mustang, MKT, Taurus, Fiesta and Focus all either here or well on their way, my betting is that Ford's product line is going to kick ass.

  • Dr Lemming Dr Lemming on Nov 01, 2008

    Ford does seem to be doing better than the other two, but it is frustrating to see its continued missteps. The new F-150 should have been downsized a bit (a la the previous generation, which didn't share so many body parts from the massive F-350). The new Lincoln MKwhatever is underwhelming, as is the restyled Fusion. The forthcoming Mustang looks okay (not great), and the Camaro will inevitably take a big chunk out of a likely shrinking pony car market. Now, maybe all of this will matter less because Ford's quality has improved. I hope so. That said, I'd agree with those who argue that Ford needs a better product czar in the U.S. From here on out Ford can't afford very many mistakes.