Ask the Best and Brightest: Will Ford's Lineup Be Enough?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Barron’s [sub] lobs Ford CEO Alan Mulally enough underhand pitches to sink the Yankees, and then offers this strangely incomplete and mislabeled guide to future FoMoCo products. The most convincing part of Big Al’s spiel: cutting costs. Before reading this excerpt [after the jump] from the Q&A, ask yourself this: are these the cars that America wants? Does the Ford brand, and its marketing mavens, have enough oomph to go the distance? Stay tuned . . .

In the past, critics, including us, have faulted Ford for not bringing more of its European cars to the U.S. and Canada.

We are bringing global cars to North America, starting with the Fiesta in 2010. By 2013, at least seven Ford brand nameplates — 80% of our production — will be on global platforms. That means common parts and large cost savings. This is dramatic: When I came to Ford three years ago, we had 97 nameplates. Now we have just 59. Can you imagine what that means in terms of being able to focus efforts? In addition, because market segments contract and expand, we’re pushing toward more flexible plants. Almost all of our plants are going to have flexible body shops in the next two or three years, so they can build several vehicles. That, combined with fewer platforms, will make us very, very flexible. All our plants are now more efficient. Many are half of the size they were in terms of the number of employees. We did all that by working in a collaborative way with the union.

[Thanks to Jim Zellmer for the link.]

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Brettc Brettc on Aug 10, 2009

    I think Ford will probably do okay. But only if they don't run out of money and head over to the Government trough. If they get a "loan" and consumers find out, things will be pretty much over for them. They have some desirable looking cars coming, but they need to do continual improvement on those cars. If they let any of their models wither again, they'll screw themselves. However, I don't know how well Ecoboost will work for them. Especially if they don't specify synthetic oil from the start. (Look how well the Volkswagen 1.8T did on dino oil). Turbos are great, until they implode out of warranty.

  • Mark MacInnis Mark MacInnis on Aug 10, 2009

    Glaring hole: small-to-midsize pickup....the behemoth f-150s today are way more truck than a homeowner and many small businesses need. The Ranger is positively jurassic. I believe Ford did what they had to do to conserve cash when they Tony Soprano-ed the F-100 idea, but damn, the F150 (and the Silverado and Ram) pickup trucks have moved so far upmarket in price and size that anyone wanting "less" doesn't have many options. A Ranger-class compact truck with a modern (safer) platform, a gas-sipping Ecoboost- 4 or a robust 6 (dare I say diesel?) with a bed you can actually reach into, and a moderately comfortable cab? An underserved hole in their lineup, if'n yer askin' me.

  • PaulieWalnut PaulieWalnut on Aug 10, 2009

    Mark MacInnis: Ford of Australia are developing a new Ford Ranger which will be about the size of a Nissan Frontier/Navarra. It'll have a 1.6l ecoboost.

  • Cpmanx Cpmanx on Aug 11, 2009
    So they take their crap which doesn’t sell overseas, cheapen it, rebadge it, and sell it here, is this their formula for success? You've got it backwards. Ford is outperforming the market in the US and Europe. Weakness in China and other developing markets is what's killing them. Toyota is getting hammered, too. GM is actually inching up on Toyota this year, incredible as that may sound.